Every email we have sent about the program has started the same way, “In just a few weeks, what started as a vision to pour into young people will come to life in the Living as Leaders: Leadership Saturdays for Girls program.”
It is a true statement that accurately describes our reasoning for coordinating Living as Leaders. “Pouring into young people” means sharing knowledge, setting positive examples, encouraging them to believe in themselves, and much more. As these weeks lead to our start date of April 21st, we would like to talk to you more about the program; therefore, this blog will specifically speak to the background and purpose of Living as Leaders. The post next week will provide you with reasons to attend. Then, in the days before the program starts, I will tell you more about the speakers and mentors.
About the Program
Living as Leaders provides a unique opportunity for girls to learn together outside of the classroom. The curriculum and schedule is designed for girls to identify their leadership traits, skills, abilities, or behaviors and begin to develop in those areas. The life skills classes teach them lessons from everyday situations. Then, the applied learning portion provides an avenue for them to take what they learned in both lessons and apply it through an activity. The youth will have opportunities to interact with each other and the teachers during the day. We start the day together as a group and end our time together as a group hearing a motivational charge. In three straight Saturdays, we hope each girl learns, make friends, and feels embraced by knowledgeable instructors and mentors.
Living as Leaders: Leadership Saturdays for Girls aims to increase the understanding of leadership and life skills and develop leadership capacity in girls in 3rd-8th grade. This three-weekend program will teach girls to apply leadership to life skills in order to make a difference at home and in the community.
Living as Leaders will take place on April 21, April 28, and May 5th from 9:00am – 12:00pm in Downing Student Union at Western Kentucky University. All participants will receive location and other details after registering.
Classes will be split into grades 3-5 and 6-8 with up to 15 girls in each class. Each instructor will have a teaching assistant (mentor) with them.
View the schedule online. Please note that the topics may be adapted flow of the lesson that day.
Why did we decide to do this now?
6, 8, 9, 11, and 13. Those are the ages of the little leaders in my family who challenge me to read more books than them and set an example for them. They are future doctors, teachers, lawyers, and ballet dancers, and I want them to have more opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills they need to get them through middle school, high school, and then college. While I do not live near them, I live near many young leaders who I can set an example for. Working with this program was inevitable for me.
Through college, I volunteered several years with the Boys & Girls Club and sometimes Girls, Inc. My motivation for joining a service sorority was to make a difference in the lives of young people and ensure they know people care about their well being and future. My educational background in public relations and public administration aligned with my desire to help in making communities stronger and leaders more developed. It all leads back to education. Essentially, I care about whether a young person (specifically K-College) is aware of resources that contribute to success and knows how to apply the information they have learned.
I started adjunct teaching fall 2013, and after my first semester teaching Leadership (in spring 2015), I realized that leadership development starts much earlier the college.
Two years ago, my cousin and I discussed starting a program for middle school girls. Then last summer, I connected with Lacretia at a networking event, and suggested having a leadership academy. She immediately expressed support because of the great things she is working with her nonprofit, L.I.F.E. Community Development, and its mentoring program. The idea laid dormant for a few months, then everything started coming together.
My reason is similar to Aurelia’s, but it goes back to why I started L.I.F.E.’s mentoring program. My Godson had really bad behavior, and his behavior overshadowed his educational abilities. He did not have a mentor or role model visible to him. This reason led to the start of our mentoring program for boys. From that, many people expressed to me the need for a program for girls.
Sometimes leadership and life skills are missing from the curriculum. As a mother of two girls, I recognize that sometimes parents do not know how to teach their children leadership skills. And, depending on the household, there may not be leadership examples for the child to see.
It is important for leaders to teach young people how to see leaders in themselves.
So, I jumped on the opportunity to get involved in Living as Leaders. I believe every child needs some type of leadership academy and have an opportunity to hear from people in the community who are sharing their leadership experiences. Plus, it is affordable and an opportunity for youth to enjoy quality leadership programming. I know economic inclusion matters. Youth in underserved communities should not miss opportunities because they do not have the finances.
As of the writing of this post, five sponsorships are available for youth to attend thanks to generous community members who have pledged to support. If you are interested in sponsoring a student in the program or need a sponsorship, please email Aurelia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ This post was written by Aurelia Spaulding with contribution from LaCretia Pratt