The high school DECA program is more than a competition.
Senior Maya Dallas and her partner junior Brianna Temby prove that every day as they move a flock of plastic flamingos from yard to yard to raise funds for the all-volunteer Smithville Community Clinic, which provides free medical services to people without insurance. This is the only service of its kind in a county in which around 21,700 people, a fourth of the population, are without insurance.
In their first two weeks, they raised over $3,000 for the clinic. The young women handle the donations, keep track of the flock’s future locations and market the fundraiser. They also market the clinic itself, raising awareness as much as funding.
The girls stated a third and very large goal – they want their project to be an inspiration for other communities to raise funds for their very own community clinic. They discussed presenting their project at other schools and organizations.
“We want to inspire people in other counties to do this thing,” said Brianna. “Then the issue of people not getting treatment wouldn’t happen because they’d get it when they need it.”
DECA also teaches students how to choose a competition-worthy project, follow it through to a 30-page written report and oral presentation, and present themselves to judges. Research, interviewing adults, refining speaking skills, and time management are integral to the process.
Maya and Brianna have also given project updates before the board of directors of the Smithville Community Clinic, and stay in daily contact with Mrs. Janice Bruno, executive director of the clinic.
DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and tourism, and business management. DECA students can create a project that fits any of those categories.
They first compete at District level, before being approved for State then International competition.
Under the watchful eye of Mr. Stewart Burns, students in the successful DECA program at Smithville High School have gone all the way to International competition every year for the past 20 years.