EXCHANGED: Kirra Shelton, 16, will be spending her summer break in the US as part of the Youth Exchange Program.
EXCHANGED: Kirra Shelton, 16, will be spending her summer break in the US as part of the Youth Exchange Program. Amber Macpherson

USA trip to foster Kirra's independence

SIXTEEN-year-old Kirra Shelton will be spending Christmas and New Year away from her family, but she said it'll be worth it.

The Noosa teen is taking part in the Lions Youth Exchange program to the US next week, and will be spending six weeks with two different families in Washington.

"I'll probably miss my family,” she said.

"I want to gain that independence, and be more trusting of myself.”

Kirra's father Mark Shelton is a Tewantin Lions Club member and encouraged her to look in to the exchange program.

Kirra spent this year raising money for her trip, gathering almost $5300.

The trip will include a stop over in Los Angeles to explore Universal Studios, Disneyland and heading to an ice-hockey game, before staying with families in Spokane and Saleh respectively.

"The Lions have been a massive help. I'm sure I will always remember this experience,” Kirra said.