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Good Deeds: Travel Insured Advances SYTA AgendaAugust 10, 2010 By: George Dooley
Travel Insured International has stepped up its 2010 involvement with the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Youth Foundation, the philanthropic sister organization of the Student & Youth Travel Association. The SYTA Youth Foundation provides financial assistance and travel experience programs that impact the lives of the next generation of global citizens. SYTA is the non-profit trade association comprised of travel agent, tour operator and travel supplier members. Known as “The Voice of Student & Youth Travel ” SYTA works to foster integrity and professionalism among travel providers serving the student and youth group travel markets.
Kevin Herlihy, Travel Insured’s national accounts manager, is leading the company’s effort in his first year of a three-year term as a member of the SYTA Youth Foundation Board of Trustees. Herlihy served as an escort when the foundation in July hosted 35 deserving students from the Sacramento area on a four-day visit to Orlando as part of its “Silver Lining Program.”
Herlihy notes that the SYTA Youth Foundation operates the program to raise membership donations and organize programs that offer selected student and youth participants a life-changing travel experience. Sacramento, the home city of this year’s student participants, is the site later this month of SYTA’s 2010 national convention. Travel Insured donated $6,500 from a portion of the company’s 2009 student group insurance bookings from SYTA members to help the SYTA Youth Foundation at the 2009 SYTA Conference. Travel Insured plans to make a new contribution announcement this month in Sacramento.
“The participants in the Orlando visit were between ages 16 and 20, either high school age or a little older,” says Herlihy. “Of the kids we hosted only five had ever flown on an airplane before.” He said the SYTA Youth Foundation raised both donated services and monetary contributions from SYTA members with a combined value of more than $50,000 to help fund the Orlando travel program.
The students stayed as guests of the Holiday Inn Kissimmee, FL, and were hosted by Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Both theme park companies extended complimentary park admission tickets to the SYTA visitors, whose tour included a visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. Participating students qualified by writing essays for SYTA reviewers on the topic of “Why I Would Like to Participate on a Silver Lining Trip,” according to Herlihy.
During the Orlando visit the youth participants, in addition to their daytime sightseeing activities, attended hosted evening conferences with speakers and individual mentors. The young people discussed how to manage dealing with other people, how to establish and develop good friendships, and how to prepare for making important life decisions as they enter adulthood.
Herlihy notes that some of the Orlando student youth participants will attend the SYTA Sacramento conference this month to talk about their Orlando travel experiences with SYTA members as part of the effort to explain and build the foundation. Plans call for student and youth participants to be selected from the New York City area, site of the 2011 SYTA conference, to join a trip to Philadelphia next summer that will allow them to experience the American heritage sites in the City of Brotherly Love.
Under the program the SYTA Youth Foundation also awarded more than 100 travel scholarships to students during the 2009-2010 calendar school year. Students are nominated for the scholarships by their teachers.
“We had over 2,000 students nominated for the scholarships, which are more competitive even than the pre-conference trips,” Herlihy says. “The scholarships allow kids who would otherwise not be able to afford a trip to travel with their school groups on motorcoach trips to places like New York and Washington D.C. The winners are selected based on need, but also on their work in their community and their good performance in school.”