Youth Leaders Class XV June Session Recap

P1110640Fifteen years ago, eight high school students from the Winter Park area made up the inaugural Youth Leaders class. They were led by Leadership Winter Park graduates and Youth Leaders founders, Shari Hodgson, Class I, and Fred Jones, Class II. As the program grew and applications began flooding in each summer, the learning opportunities for our community’s budding leaders also expanded. One class was tasked with developing the program’s mission statement which is still in use and remains at the heart of the curriculum. “By being dedicated, diligent, and open-minded, we will model respect and commitment for the purpose of creating a more optimistic and passionate worldwide community of youth leaders.”

On Monday, June 15, 24 students from seven Central Florida high schools gathered at the Winter Park Welcome Center to begin their journey in the Youth Leaders program. Throughout the week, students were exposed to opportunities for engagement in the Winter Park community while honing their individual leadership traits.

P1110555The five-day program takes on a different focus each day to give the participants a well-rounded view of the community. Session days include Team Building, Community Appreciation, Communication & Technology, Law & Government and Career Insight. On day one, Class XV spent time getting to know their fellow class members in icebreaker activities then completed a DiSC profile assessment to learn more about their personality traits and how those traits affect team environments. The class also engaged in a community service activity with BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation.

During the week, students also had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes tour of the WKMG Local 6 TV station, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Winter Park Police and Fire station. AAA presented the class with a valuable interactive lesson in distracted driving with their Keys2Drive simulator focusing on the challenges and consequences of texting while driving. Students also got a first-hand look at the judicial system by participating in a mock voir dire jury selection and mock trail where they played the roles of judge, prosecutor, defendant, jury and others.

The program came to a conclusion on Friday, June 19 at the Winter Park Civic Center with a morning focused on career exploration and college preIMG_9023paredness. A panel of professionals from various industries spoke with students about their personal journey and what their job entails. The afternoon featured a Graduation Luncheon which brought together parents, program facilitators and student participants to recognize their accomplishments throughout the week. The graduation was presented by Bright House Networks and Community and Public Affairs Senior Manager, Scott McCallum, awarded two students with the Outstanding Youth Leader Award during the ceremony. Fernando Mendez-Campos, a rising senior at Winter Park High School and Erin Wright, rising sophomore at Winter Park High School received the honor.

A special thank you to the Winter Park Health Foundation and the Rotary Club of Winter Park for providing vital program grants which make Youth Leaders possible!

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