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The annual work trip as leadership development

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 2:01 p.m. CST

Sunday morning, June 9, dawned brightly as 26 youth and seven adults loaded up for a week’s work trip to Salyersville, KT, the site of a massive tornado in 2012.

While on-site, the crew built many porches and ramps from scratch for families, including older couples, who have been unable to afford or complete projects to clean up after the disaster.

I noticed, even as a brand new staff person, how quickly youth from Lyons Township High School, Riverside Brookfield High School and Argo Community High School became a unified team with plenty of good energy and a spirit of collaboration.

All of the adults, and each youth, are proud of how well the trip went this year, especially because of the relationships that formed among the crew and with each family they worked with at each home. We heard nothing but good things from the site coordinators too – that the crew was respectful and responsible, and that they had never worked with better youth.

The work trip gave these youth the opportunity to get to know each other, and become close friends with other youth they wouldn’t have met except through The LeaderShop.

The LeaderShop seeks to bring youth together to become a diverse group of community-minded individuals. Because of this trip, suburban youth also had the opportunity to be exposed to a more rural culture and meet people they would have not otherwise met.

The LeaderShop’s annual work trip started in 2006 as a capstone to the year-long Leadership Development programs in each high school The LeaderShop works with, and serves as a jumping off place for the next year’s Leadership Development programs. These programs empower youth to plan and execute service projects that benefit local communities and national charities. As these youth come together for the community, they develop their passion for making a difference in their community and their lives.

Diverse experiences among diverse individuals expand each youth’s worldview, and helps to develop a more diverse community-minded leader.

Sara Olson is program coordinator at the LeaderShop

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