26 October, 2016
The Chamber of Gadsden/Etowah has kicked off a revamped Youth Leadership Program today at Gadsden State Community College. It is a program designed to nurture and develop positive leadership qualities in high school students in Etowah County.
“In the past, we had 15 students from each school across the county so we had a lot of students participating in a very broad program,” said Derrick Griffey, volunteer coordinator of the Youth Leadership Program. “Now, we are focused on two juniors per participating school with very specialized programming every month. Our main goal is to prepare these students for constructive leadership and responsible participation in the affairs of the community.”
Program participants are required to have at least a 3.0 grade point average and possess a genuine interest in participating in community and leadership activities. Participating schools include Coosa Christian, Episcopal Day, Etowah High, Gadsden City High, Gaston High, Glencoe High, Hokes Bluff High, Southside High and West End High.
“Each student was selected by their administration so we have the best of the best,” said Griffey, who is a member of The Chamber Board of Directors.
The first session of the Youth Leadership Program focused on college preparation. It started with an icebreaker activity and a presentation by Griffey about the workforce in Etowah County. The group continued to learn about Gadsden State, participated in a teambuilding activity and took a personality assessment. Gadsden State enrollment specialists also conducted an activity that assisted the students with choosing a potential college major.
“This program is about our youth learning about their county and communities in hopes that they return to the area after college and consider it as their future home,” said Heather Brothers New, president of The Chamber.
The program continues through April (with a break in December). Topics include:
- November – Workplace Development and Healthcare
- January – Non-profit and Community Service
- February – Government and Economic Development
- March – Tourism, Arts and Culture
- April – Leadership Skills
Griffey said he hopes the Youth Leadership Program will inspire the students to take on leadership roles not only now in their respective schools but within the community in the future.
“Our ultimate goal is that graduates of The Chamber’s Youth Leadership Program will possess a unique understanding and appreciation of the inner workings of the community and will be excellent future candidates to serve local boards, committees and task forces,” he said.