Global Youth Service Day Interview with Pratima Yellayi

April isn’t just about spring showers and blooming flowers; it’s National Volunteer Week! This week is a vibrant celebration of the everyday heroes who dedicate their time and energy to making a difference, particularly to a certain group of people who don’t get much spotlight in the volunteer scene: youth!

Youth bring fresh perspectives, boundless energy, and a willingness to learn that injects a powerful spark into any cause. Whether it’s planting trees for a greener future, organizing a book drive for children impacted by foster care, or mentoring younger students, young volunteers are making ripples in their communities.

This National Volunteer Week, we’ll be highlighting the amazing work our Teen Leadership Program (TLP) members have been engaged with since August!

Read more about their impact on our interview with Pratima and her experience of leading the group’s advocacy project and providing nutritious meals for couples experiencing homelessness residing at the Zaban Paradies Center.



What is your group project about and what made you want to create your project?
Our group project is centered around the cause area of alleviating homelessness and hunger directly by serving food and advocating for the problem. 

Q: What skills did you gain or develop as a teen leader, and how did you apply those skills to lead your project?
A: I learned how to efficiently coordinate events with nonprofits like Zaban Paradies Center. 

Q: What challenges did you encounter while working on your project, and how did you overcome them?
A: Our advocating aspect of our project was extremely slow, but overall, we still made an impact by forming bonds with the residents of the center.

Q: Tell us how the TLP supported your goals as a teen leader and what your next steps are after completing this TLP year.
A: TLP supported my goals by respecting opinions and my say in my projects, as well as fostering a sense of responsibility. 

Q: Describe a time when you felt really proud of yourself as a teen leader.
A: I felt really proud when I was able to list off my accomplishments of my project from the first year I served on the TLP- our hard work and dedication to preparing and serving food to the residents at Zaban helped me realize reality, as well as fill my heart with empathy and push me to work harder for this cause area. 

Q: In honor of Global Volunteer Month, who inspires you and why?
A: The spelling bee crew in our TLP. I believe in their cause, how they structured and planned their event and their legacy. Everything was well-aligned and genuinely motivated me to be as involved as them next year and this summer. 

Q: Imagine you’re giving a TED Talk about a leadership lesson you learned. What’s the title and your main takeaway message?
A: Never let your team drag you down. I had faced many conflicts this year, which made me unavailable to attend meetings or put in as much effort for research/other resources as an advocate, but I really did not see much effort from my “team.” Although it was no excuse for me not to do much to help facilitate our progress, my team did not have my back and lacked communication for many different things. Unfortunately, it made me feel guilty, but it taught me a valuable lesson about the acronym: Together Everyone Achieves More. 


Join the Teen Leadership Program!
Applications to join the 2024-25 Teen Leadership Program are open to all rising 9th-12 graders in the metro Atlanta Area. Learn more about how teen leadership can activate positive change in their world and apply today!
We are looking for advisors ages 22+ to serve as mentors/positive role models for the program. Interesting in helping teens? Contact Earline at for more information.