JUNE 6, 2018, Washington, D.C. – Eighth graders from Henderson Middle School of Sour Lake, Texas, which was destroyed in August by Hurricane Harvey, were granted a three-day, all-expense paid educational trip to Philadelphia where they were given the opportunity to bring classroom knowledge to life.

Through the 2018 SYTA Youth Foundation (SYF) Silver Lining Program, 30 students, who might have never been able to travel, were awarded this experience. Principal Darrell Westfall said, “Due to the horrific destruction of Hurricane Harvey, our students have not had the chance to participate in field trips of any nature, nor will they. Funds that were once delegated to educational field trips are now allocated to replace educational resources that were destroyed in the flood.”

When applying for the Silver Lining program, Kimberly Gallaspy, science teacher at Henderson Middle School said, “In a year of natural disaster and loss, being able to escape the destruction while expanding student’s worldview will be a healing, growing experience for students who are restricted by location, devastation and economics. An educational trip of this magnitude will generate much needed excitement among the students and members of our small, rural community.”

The 30 students from Henderson Middle School were chosen based on attendance, behavior, grades and an interview process by the school. During the trip, students participated in social and historical learning experiences, received a personal welcome from city leaders (and Benjamin Franklin!), and were featured in local Philadelphia media outlets.
It was three days packed with history and hands-on experiences, including various sightseeing trips and dining adventures around the city of Philadelphia—a silver lining to their reality back in Texas and a trip these students will never forget.

The Silver Lining Program is part of SYF’s mission to impact the lives of youth and students who would otherwise not have the resources to participate in those enriching and life-changing opportunities. Annually, deserving students are selected to receive an enriched educational experience, which deepens their knowledge of U.S. history—at not cost to them.

A special thank you to the SYTA Youth Foundation Program Partners who helped make this trip possible: Philadelphia CVB, The Air Travel Group, Centipede Tours, Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Airport, Entertainment Cruises, First Class Tours, The Franklin Institute, Hard Rock Cafe, Historic Philadelphia, Holiday Inn Houston Intercontinental Airport/Aimbridge Hospitality, Museum of American Revolution, National Constitution Center, Norm Hull & Associates, One Liberty Observation Deck, Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours, Philly's Gourmet Steak, School Tours of America, The University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, White Eagle Marketing and 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.



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