The Youth Leadership program encompasses eight months and gives the students opportunities to learn about our local economy, heritage and tourism, city and county services, health and human services, and a day in Nashville to learn about state government.
The retreat kicked off with a presentation on leadership skills by Robert Green, area director of Ocoee Region of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Green shared with the students that leadership requires navigational tools/skills, including character, servant leadership, excellence and teamwork.
“If you want to be a leader worth following, serve,” Green said, adding leaders must admit their mistakes.
The students continued the day with activities to get to know each other.
“This aspect of the retreat is important because these students will be spending time together over the year and forming some lasting friendships,” Sherry Crye, Youth Leadership coordinator, explained. “We want them to learn cooperation with all four schools.”
Dr. Christie Kleinmann and Dr. Megan Moe, professors of communication with Lee University, presented to the students a session on different styles of conflict management resolution and how these apply to leadership. They encouraged students to know their personal style and to surround themselves with different styles to balance their leadership team.
Before the retreat the students were required to read Ed Gerety’s book “Combinations: Opening the Door to Student Leadership.”
Crye, along with Bernadette Douglas, Chamber executive vice president, and Aaron Weatherford, membership director, led the students in discussions of the different leadership qualities covered in Gerety’s book: Gratitude, attitude, goals, respect, kindness and belief.
“The students were challenged to discover and learn the combinations that will help open the door to student leadership,” Crye explained.
“These are principles that will empower them to lead with character, make positive choices, and take action toward their goals and dreams.”
The students also had an opportunity to hear from Youth Leadership alumni about how their experience in the class had helped them transition from high school to college.
Annie Kinworthy, community development coordinator of Habitat for Humanity, spoke to the students about Habitat. Again this year the service project of the Youth Leadership class will include raising funds for Habitat for Humanity and investing “sweat equity” by working on a Habitat house.
Students challenged to think outside the box, use problem solving skills and work as a team by building Tinkertoy “Towers of Triumph.” This activity also encourages healthy competition to see which group can build the tallest tower.
Crye also challenged students to build a floatable raft from plastic straws and add pennies until the raft sank. Through this activity students learn the importance of planning for a project, team efforts, “learning from mistakes” and the value of a second try.
“Both activities helped the students learn the importance of working as a team, using everyone’s strengths and making good decisions,” Crye noted.
Students also spent some outdoor time at Bradley Central High School with Robert Green, who led them in activities involving team building and leadership.
“We try to gear all the activities and discussions during the retreat toward giving the students an opportunity to recognize some of their leadership skills and build on those while also having fun,” Crye said.
“Most of the students already exhibit leadership qualities. We hope the Youth Leadership program will strengthen them as leaders in their schools now and begin the process of preparing them to be future leaders in Cleveland and Bradley County.”