Thursday, January 28, 2010

Youth Leadership Council Meeting 1/25/10

The 2009-2010 Youth Leadership Council held its fourth meeting on Monday, January 25th. Providence St. Mel 9th grader Mylana Williams (above) was introduced as the council's newest member. She replaces Victoria Rivera whose schedule does not allow her to participate at this time. We welcome Mylana and look forward to incorporating her perspective into a new year of YLC initiatives.

As opposed to its usual external focus, this meeting was very introspective. I asked the students to define leadership. "What qualities and characteristics do you look for in a leader?" I prepared a list of what I thought to be good answers, and they just blew me out of the water! Not only did they cover all of my suggestions, they had plenty more! According to YLC, good leaders set goals, show respect, stay on task, listen, are strong & bold, take criticism, practice what they preach, are willing to follow, and the list goes on. Now that I've recorded their excellent answers, they are going to hold each other accountable for them. If they are leaders in our program, they should be exhibiting these qualities and characteristics all the time.

Their next exercise was to start an asset map. Asset mapping is modeled to work on a community level, but you can do it with any group of people. Have each person list their assets, bring them all together, begin to make connections, and use your assets collectively to work toward a goal. Assets can be personal traits like "trustworthy," people you know like "my teachers," groups you're apart of like "my basketball team," and so on. Here are some of the council's assets:
  • We have members who are outgoing, enthusiastic, talkative, friendly, hardworking, motivated, athletic, helpful, and nice to be around.
  • We have members who are good at acting, singing, writing, dancing, drawing, speaking, and with computers.
  • We have members who work at Jewel-Osco, are on Region 2 Youth Leadership Council, are in Tech Club, and go to CME Church.
As you can see, we have a dynamic group of young people on Youth Leadership Council. At their next meeting, members will discuss how these assets are connected and how they might leverage them as a group. I think asset mapping will be very helpful in facilitating their brainstorming.

The last exercise for this day was also an assignment. I asked the members to write down what they want to be when they grow up. Then I told them to go out and interview a person in that job/career before their next meeting. They will need to document their interview in some way. It can be simple transcription, an audio recording, a summary with quotes... just some kind of documentation. At the end, their reports will be posted in the center for everyone to see. I think this is a good leadership development activity for them personally, but it will also set an example to other students in the program. It is a simple, effective project that any student can take on. Here is what everyone wants to be:

Ashaunti - lawyer/professor
De'Sean - business owner
Israel (right) - architect
Mylana - actress or criminal psychologist
Savon (above) - professional football player or work with computers
Sean - video game designer

Stay tuned for their reports next month. Thanks for keeping up!

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