by Haley Armand Tarasiewicz
What makes a leader? Are they born? Or can these skills be learned? What do they look like? Can a leader look like me or you?
The Leadership Center for Youth (TLC), a division of Family & Youth Counseling Agency (FYCA), helps teens develop the skills they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives. They explore careers, get involved in their communities and learn leadership skills to help them be successful community service leaders of tomorrow.
“Our youth are our future. We need to help them develop positive leadership knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations to become effective and skillful leaders,” said Sarah Meche, TLC Director. “At The Leadership Center for Youth, we provide an environment of growth and opportunities for positive development to help teens find their purpose, build their strength and find meaning in learning. We help them develop habits that will result in positive and effective action and results.”
TLC is comprised of four stand-alone components that work together to help youth develop a leadership toolbox.
Leadership Development:Navigating Life Challenges Students will benefit from experiential groups to promote self-respect and responsibility, leading to a healthy and responsible way of life. They will learn soft skills-communication, boundaries, cooperation, leadership and more.
Career Exploration: Building Career Pathways In collaboration with area businesses and industry, high school youth participate in programs which offer them a chance to explore career options in experiential settings. They will have the opportunity to interact and network with professionals in various career fields to help them determine their desired career trajectory. It can reaffirm interest that was already present, or it could pique their interest in a field they were not familiar with.
Civic Engagement:Promoting Advocacy Young people are a powerful force for change. As future reformers, they have innovative ideas on how to solve the political, economic and social problems facing their communities. Students will have the opportunity to advocate for themselves and their beliefs through the development of their own voice and learning to effectively use it.
Service Learning: Giving Time and Talent Students will learn about the importance of serving their community through programs and activities that emphasize using their time and talents to give back.
These components are open for high school students; however, TLC can offer leadership development workshops for area middle school students. For any student interested in getting involved with TLC, Meche recommends they start with Leadership Development to establish a strong foundation of skills in order to take full advantage of the benefits the other segments offer.
“I enrolled in all components of The Leadership Center for Youth,” said Alonnie Celestine, current chair of FYCA’s Youth Advisory Council. “I started the program my freshman year of high school, and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to find my voice. It encouraged me to think about what is my ‘why,’ and how I am someone and I can make a difference. They have provided a necessary outlet for area youth to be engaged, get involved and to become successful in all areas of life.”
If any student or their parent/legal guardian is interested in registering for one or more of TLC’s components, they can register at www.fyca.org/divisions/tlc/. Applicants can select as many of the components as they would like, and a member of the FYCA team will reach out to you with more details based on what activities and events are occurring now and in the future.