Written by Jordan Benedict, Douglas County High School, Youth Ambassador

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Allison Robbins is the brilliant mind and Georgia Youth Leadership Award winner for 2016 behind “Challenger Sports”. Challenger Sports is I special needs basketball and cheerleading team that Allison has from for students across her county. Allison is a senior at River Ridge High School and shared with me how she came up with this concept and what leadership means to her.

“I have always had a passion for students with special needs,” says Allison, “I love working with them.” Allison first noticed a need for more activities for these students in the winter months and was able to combine her passion of coaching and playing sports with these amazing athletes to create this team.

When asked for her inspiration behind “Challenger Sports” Allison responded, “The joy I saw in the special needs students I worked with in and out of school. They loved the opportunity to build relationships with their general education peers through games and I wanted to be able to create a new way for them to be able to do that.”

 Allison went to many leaders in her community, like the coach of the special needs soccer team, and educated herself on how their programs began and what went into starting a program like this. She learned how to reserve practice spaces, get equipment, and how to handle different levels of ability with her players.

“I had reconnected with students and their parents that I had worked with in the past to ensure there would be enough participates for this team. I then began looking for volunteers to help with weekly practices.”

At the beginning, Allison had trouble making contacts with the schools in the county along with acquiring equipment along with learning enough about basketball to be able to teach others. The staff and students at her high school along with members in her community that worked with special education students helped her along the way to make her dream become a reality. Allison especially appreciated the help of her brother who watched NBA TV with her to make sure she knew what she was doing at practices.

When asked how she defines leadership Allison stated, “I define leadership as serving the people of your community in the best way you can.” As a student leader in her community Allison hopes to influence others to step out of their comfort zone to help others.

“My goal wasn’t set of to change the world, I just wanted to make a positive change for people.” With a lot of help from those around her and hard work Allison was able to do just that. At the start of this project Allison was really worried but was able accomplish her goals. With this Allison says that, “I want everyone to know anyone can do that.” You do not have to change the world to make a difference in it. The little things matter and Allison is a fantastic example this idea.

We look forward to seeing what the future hold for this bright, caring individual. Congratulations Allison Robbins!

Support Allison and the other 19 young leaders by attending the Georgia Youth Leadership Awards on Saturday, March 5th at the College Football Hall of Fame.