Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference hosted two Mid Year Leadership Retreats for middle and high school leaders who lead on-campus and after-school Hands4Hope Service-Learning Clubs and Committees. Hands4Hope staff and the Youth Board Executive Committee, composed of eight high school leaders, planned and facilitated the two retreats at Vintage Grace Church. There were 23 middle school and 32 high school leaders who attended their respective retreats. The youth leaders were from 13 local schools including: Camerado Springs, Folsom, Herbert Green, Marina Village, Markham, Rolling Hills. and Sutter Middle Schools, and El Dorado, Folsom, Oak Ridge, Ponderosa, Union Mine, and Vista del Lago High Schools.
The theme of the retreat was Brand it! Be True to You. Workshops were focused on how to use branding in marketing for their youth-led service-learning projects. Youth leaders also practiced making a service-learning demonstration project to showcase the skills used during project development and implementation with the community. Additionally, professionalism was covered in the form of etiquette and professional communication. Youth learned how to appropriately dress for a business meeting or presentation, how to compose themselves at a business luncheon, and how to author emails and leave voicemails when working with businesses and community leaders.
Another important element of the retreats was the time the leaders spent reviewing their personal leadership goals and checking-in with their peer leadership teams. Finally, there were many fun games and activities throughout the retreats that allowed youth leaders from different local schools to get to know each other better, have fun, and learn new activities to create a safe space and engage their peers during club and committee meetings. One high school retreat participant shared “I really enjoyed meeting people from other schools…and can’t wait to use the techniques [we learned] to engage our club”.
To make the retreats successful and relevant, the Hands4Hope Education Program staff worked closely with the Youth Board Executive Committee to plan the retreats. The team of adult mentors and youth leaders worked in four committees collaboratively for weeks to design the content and plan the presentations and activities. At each retreat the high school leaders facilitated the workshop in teams of two, to both their peers and the younger middle school leaders. “One of my favorite parts of facilitating leadership training is seeing people get really excited to share an idea when we’re in a group discussion. I love seeing this enthusiasm, and I love when it feels like I don’t have to lead a conversation anymore because everyone has so many great ideas to share”.-Simone Caruthers - Ponderosa High School, Hands4Hope Youth Board President
Hands4Hope would like to extend a thank you to Vintage Grace Church for the use of their facility, as well as Paco’s Mexican Cuisine for a delicious lunch. Additionally, a huge thank you to adult volunteers Dolly Wager, Robyn and Chris Parker, Lynn Fedoryk and Andrea Howard for coordinating and serving lunch.