Features

Wadsworth Younglife prioritizes the community

BY JANAE JOACHIM

High school students have tried to find community and answers to their questions about life by deciding to go to Younglife. The weekly club and campaigners meetings are a place to help students find community and mentorship. 

“I think they deserve to hear the truth of the Gospel, of what Jesus said life was about,” said Matt Pavlak, Younglife leader and staff member. 

Younglife came to Wadsworth for the same reason that it came to the other schools in the area, because there is a large population of kids here who are looking for life and curious about what that means. 

“I see a population of adults that care deeply about students and a population of students that care deeply about what life is, what it could look like and what they want out of it,” Pavlak said. 

Younglife students and leader, Matt Pavlak, grasp their fall weekend sign-up forms as they stand around the Younglife logo after club. Club is hosted by a student and is full of games, singing and dancing. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT PAVLAK

Wadsworth Younglife is a part of the Greater Akron Area in The North Coast Region. There are six total schools in the area. Younglife is established in all 50 states and 105 countries around the world. 

Younglife first came to Wadsworth in 1996, but the first club was not until 2000. 

Many students first come to club or campaigners because their friend invited them or because they have heard good things. 

“I joined Younglife honestly because I had nothing better to do,” said Morgan Raymond, junior at Wadsworth High School. “It turned into one of the most meaningful things I have ever done. I found love and a community that wants the best for me.” 

Club includes singing, dancing and games. Campaigners is a time where students and leaders gather to ask and answer questions about the Bible, questions that could have arisen at club. 

“I want to give you a space where you can think about life without being told this is what you have to believe,” Pavlak said. 

Club and campaigners are both held at students’ houses every week, and the specific location is shared on the Wadsworth Younglife Instagram page. 

“I went to an all-area event in eighth grade and I kept coming because I had a lot of fun,” said Annalisa Lobello, junior at Wadsworth High School. 

Letting kids just be kids with no attached expectations is important to the mission of Younglife. It is meant to be a place to have fun with friends and leaders, who strive to help students lead each other and hope to sacrificially help them navigate life. 

Wadsworth Younglife leaders and students gather together at the New River Gorge Bridge Overlook in West Virginia. Leaders Bry and Matt Pavlak had just finished sharing their stories as a way to end the four-day camp trip. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT PAVLAK

“[Leaders] enter into situations being a couple years out and offer advice, direction or even just an ear to listen,” Pavlak said. 

Leaders are college students who have decided to stay back and offer help to high schoolers. They have been in the same place of asking where their meaning and place ultimately is and desire to offer guidance. 

“Getting to spend quality time with people and just process through how Jesus fits into their lives are what my favorite moments as a leader consist of,” said Leasha Bailey, Wadsworth Younglife leader since February 2019. 

Wadsworth Younglife has campaigners every Thursday and the fall weekend trip will be November 19-21 at Roundlake Camp. 

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