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Life Skills Program Students Join 2016 Next Generation Program

April 19, 2016

The 2016 SYTA Youth Foundation Next Generation Program in Partnership with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Thanks to all who made it possible!

April 19, 2016, Washington, D.C. – It was four days that 25 students from Edison High School in Minneapolis, MN will never forget. The trip included an experience with the Busch Gardens Connections Program in Tampa Bay, Florida, leadership and team building lessons, followed by an excursion to the Everglades National Park that was added as part of the National Parks Centennial celebration.

The students that participated in the SYTA Youth Foundation’s (SYF’s) “Next Generation Program” are members of the Life Skills Program at Edison High School. The Life Skills Program is a Federal Setting III program that supports students who have been identified as having special needs such as learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, autism spectrum disorders, other health disorders such as ADHD, developmental cognitive delays, and speech/language impairments.

The primary philosophy of the Life Skills Program is to give students the opportunity to further develop social skills/team building, community/global awareness, and learn about employment opportunities through educational opportunities and programming. Of the 25 students who went on the trip most had never been out of their communities, let alone out of the state of Minnesota.

When Edison students were told that they had been selected for this learning experience, they reacted with excitement. “I can’t believe there are people out there that would donate money so that we can go to Florida. That’s crazy! But I appreciate them being so kind,” said one. Another student exclaimed, “For real? We get to go to Florida? I’ve never even traveled outside of Minneapolis!”

“This will be life-changing for these kids,” said Tatiana Stoll, Edison High School Program Leader. “Just for them to see what the world has to offer, that is so valuable in terms of life experiences.”

Through the SYF Next Generation Program, the youth participated in interactive and innovative learning experiences that can only be experienced at Busch Gardens. They worked hand-in-hand with the park’s animal caregivers and learned firsthand how to take care of animals. The students also learned about conservation programs and how their behavior and actions can impact wildlife and wild places.

The Next Generation Program is part of SYF’s mission to provide travel experiences for youth and students who would otherwise not have the resources to participate in those enriching and life-changing opportunities. SYF ensures young people have access to travel opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable due to family economic hardship, budget cuts in school systems or simply lack of access to or education about travel as a learning experience.

A special thank you to the SYTA Youth Foundation Partners who made this trip possible for the youth: BookMyGroup, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Delta Airlines, Fly My Group, Golden Corral, Pegasus Bus, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Techtrav, Inc., Yankee Trails and the SYTA Youth Foundation Wingmen.


The SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF), the philanthropic division of the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), provides access to travel opportunities for young people that would otherwise be unavailable due to family economic hardship, budget cuts in school systems or simply lack of access to or education about travel as a learning experience. The SYTA Youth Foundation is focused on changing young lives through travel.

SYTA is the non-profit, professional trade association that promotes student and youth group travel. It seeks to foster integrity and professionalism among student and youth travel service providers. SYTA members play an important role in facilitating both domestic mobility and international incoming and outgoing mobility worldwide. As the voice of student and youth travel, SYTA represents the interests of leading U.S., Canadian and international travel agencies, tour operators, attractions, destinations, educators and suppliers.

For additional information, contact:
Emily Milligan, Associate Director, SYTA Youth Foundation
[email protected]

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