VALPARAISO | The South Shore Leadership Youth for Community Engagement program has a rule. Once you head home after an inspiring day of listening and learning, do not spout the words, “The day was fun,” to anyone. That is not what SLYCE is about.
Too many adults judge adolescents these days based off what they hear about them in the media. SLYCE is helping us get the message out that so many of us are growing leaders, eager to represent our age group in a brighter light. When we walk through the doors to begin our next session, we automatically age by at least ten years, if only for that day.
“Fun” does not describe the program accurately enough, although I will break the rule and say it does just a bit. SLYCE is exciting, informational, inspiring, empowering, and educational. Whether we are listening to one of our key speakers discuss the value of being an individual or taking a bus tour around Whiting, Indiana led by Mayor Joseph Stahura, there is always something truly special to take in that will aid us all with progressing in the future.
Long-lasting connections are built through this program. I, personally, have been in contact with many community leaders that I never would have been able to meet without the help of SLYCE. I was able to attend Dr. Bernice King’s speech at the Keeping the Dream Alive Youth Rally 2013 and Beyond by means of an essay competition brought to my attention by Ms. Dana Yake, a SLYCE leader.
Each member of SLYCE took part of making the fundamental guidelines for being in this program on the day of our first session. The rules we came up with include using good communication, being open minded, providing constructive criticism, and respecting ourselves.
At our meetings, we engage in activities that teach us more about Northwest Indiana. We have group discussions about the values and characteristics that when combined, form the ideal leader. Not only are we progressing as leaders, but as individuals who can head back to school the next day and apply these new lessons to everyday life situations.
With these new contacts, my peers and I will create strong roots throughout our community. We will bring our new ideas to the table in order to provide a fresh, positive influence and create a network. We have all worked very hard to be where we are. We were chosen for our involvement in academics, sports, clubs, churches, and more. We will not be throwing away the opportunities given to us.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, once said, “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
This correlates with the SLYCE members and the beginning of our journey to figure out how we will positively change Northwest Indiana. Give us time and in exchange, we will give you a better future.