Local Youths Learn Leadership Skills At Springfield CollegeAugust 3, 2007
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Aug. 3, 2007 -- Springfield youngsters identified by area schools and community organizations for their potential to become community leaders are at Springfield College on scholarships to the Springfield Leaders of Tomorrow Program this summer. The program is a collaboration between the college, the 21st Century Learning Communities, the City of Springfield, and others.
The college has expanded the program, which began in 2005 with 50 area youths ages 13 to 15, to include 250 youngsters ages 12 to 18 this year. Students attend two weeks of programs to increase their confidence, communication and teamwork skills, and leadership experience. In the classroom and at outdoor adventure programs at Springfield College’s East Campus, they build leadership skills that are transferable to success in other aspects of life.
This year, the students will develop solutions to community problems posed by the partnering organizations: how to engage more teenagers in civic activities, how to change societal attitudes of high school athletes, and how to address other community problems. In the fall, they will assume leadership roles in the schools and community organizations that nominated them for the program.
Every day, community and city leaders interact with youth in the program, which is directed by Springfield College Associate Professor of Physical Education Ted France. Additional staffing includes teachers and guidance counselors from Springfield Public Schools. Springfield College undergraduate and graduate students who are AmeriCorps members also work with the participating youth.
Getting a taste of college life is another part of the experience. The youth attend on-campus daytime programs in the first week and live in college residence halls in the second week. They eat meals in the college dining hall, and use college recreational facilities including swimming in the Art Linkletter Natatorium.
Scholarships for the program are valued at almost $1,200 per student. Support comes from the college, the Springfield Public Schools, and the 21st Century Learning Communities. Bay State Health partnered with the college and Putnam High School in the first session, in which students in Putnam’s health career vocational track explored health-related careers.
Other participating organizations in Springfield Leaders of Tomorrow are: Aramark Corp., the School to Work Program at the Springfield Public Schools, Brookings School, Dunbar Community Center, MassMutual, Putnam Vocational Technical High School, Springfield Parks and Recreation Department, Springfield YMCA, and Step Up Springfield.
Following the program, students will return to their sponsoring organizations to lead activities designed to further develop their character and academic success. Springfield College AmeriCorps members will continue to interact with and support the new youth leaders during the coming academic year.