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By JOHN ROTHSpecial to CU TimesCredit unions from across the nation once again celebrated National Credit Union Youth Week, April 19-25. “The Magic of Saving,” this year’s theme, allowed participating credit unions to integrate insightful and fun activities to help educate the youth of America about fiscal responsibility.Activities designed to inform children on the concepts of saving included lectures from prominent figures in popular cultural. On Monday, April 20, GTE Federal Credit Union announced the creation of its new youth account called U22, targeting youth ages 12 to 22. Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays spoke at the event, talking with kids who showed interest in the program.Many credit unions participating in the week-long event offered special accounts designed to spur the interest of young people who wish to be educated on the concepts of fiscal responsibility. Forum Credit Union, based out of Indianapolis, designed free student checking accounts available to young adults, ages 16 to 24. The credit union’s Aware Kids and Aware Teens accounts offer reward incentives, giving young people the motivation to set aside money.The credit union’s Senior Vice President of Member Service Operations Brad Baker believes in this year’s theme. Baker said, “I have two children who are near college age, and I have spent a lot of time over the years educating them on the importance of saving. I believe that this type of event can be very effective in educating young people.” Baker also said that this is the first year that his credit union participated in Youth Week.Some credit unions have opted to extend the week-long event to cover the entire month of April. AmeriCU Credit Union, Rome, N.Y., for the second year in a row expanded the National Credit Union Association’s Youth Week to a month-long celebration.Linda Garboczi, the vice president of marketing and member relations for the credit union, said, “Youth Week always happens during spring break. Many of the college students in our community spend those days out of town. Extending the event of the entire month allows us to reach as many young adults as possible.” Garboczi explained that “membership goals are set for each of its 15 branches during the month-long event.”Redwood Credit Union, Santa Rosa, Calif., makes no bones about its expectations with regards to Youth Week. Robin McKenzie, senior vice president of marketing and public relations, understands the value of Youth Week. McKenzie said, “Every member of the credit union is important, young and old.” She added, “The credit union knows that Youth Week and similar events work and that in the past goals have always exceeded expectations.”A message from CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica offered best wishes to the credit unions participating in Youth Week. “This year’s theme celebrates the magic of one of the most basic, albeit most fundamental, pillars to financial independence,” Mica said. “Now more than ever, it is vital that credit unions emphasize the importance of saving to our nation’s youth to build for their future financial health and freedom.”Suggestions offered by CUNA’s Web site, http://finlit.cuna.org/youth_press.html, relay a variety of exercises for parents that can be used in the long-term, financial growth of their children. To introduce the basic concepts for the financial development of kids ages five and younger, coin savers help children learn how to identify coins and count money. Tips for children ages 5 to 10 include a weekly allowance to instill practical money management skills.Youth Week was first organized in 2001 to promote financial literacy and responsibility to America’s youth.–[email protected]

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