YLA program now accepting applications

Published 6:35 pm Saturday, August 25, 2012

For high school juniors who are seeking an opportunity to bolster their resumes, gain experience in the community and learn more about leadership, the Youth Leadership Atmore program is now accepting applications. Packets are now available at Atmore Christian School, Escambia Academy, Escambia County High School, Northview High School or at the Atmore Chamber of Commerce for those home-schooled students interested in applying for the 2012-2013 Youth Leadership Atmore Program.  Completed applications must be signed by parents and school officials and turned into the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce office by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Participants must be enrolled in one of the above- mentioned schools and have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher. The Youth Leadership Atmore Steering Committee will review all applications and references and schedule interviews for all eligible applicants.  Interviews will be held Sept. 10, 11 and 12 beginning at 3 p.m. Tuition is $125 for each participant. Partial financial aid may be available to those students demonstrating a need. All other funding is donated through corporate sponsorship, gifts from members of the public and designated fund-raising projects.

Deborah Daniel, who plays a prominent role of the committee, said the program is also indebted to the Poarch Creek Indian community.

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“We’re fortunate that the Creek Indians have allowed us to use their transportation—and driver,” Daniel said.
This youth leadership program, now in its eighteenth year, begins in October with an overnight retreat at Camp Beckwith on Weeks Bay in Fairhope. Then, from November through April, the class is involved in a series of interactive, hands-on activities, which take place one day each month. Participants have the opportunity to meet community and state leaders, visit major businesses, government offices, a college campus and healthcare facilities while learning first-hand how the Atmore community works and how youth leadership can make a difference.

Among the many topics covered, some include sessions on formal etiquette, personal banking, law enforcement, business and industry, and the history of Atmore. The business and industry session helps students who may not be interested in college and instead wish to learn a trade. The industry focus varies from year to year.

“We try to introduce the kids to different aspects, to broaden their horizons,” Daniel said.

Another important session focuses on resumes and interviews. Students have an opportunity to develop a resume and perform mock interviews, which are conducted by human resource works at local businesses.

Beyond benefiting the students personally, those in the program have a chance to give back to the community through a service project. In past years, projects have included a food drive or making bracelets to benefit cancer patients. As long as the project meets safety guidelines, the group can pursue any project they develop. The project not only gives students a chance to give back, but it also benefits them in teaching them how to work in a group and being able to have problem-solving skills. The students often have fun, too.

“Every time at graduation—they talk it up,” Daniel said.

As it turns out, according to Daniel, the Youth Leadership Atmore began when adult members of Leadership Atmore decided to create a similar program for adolescents as part of their service project. Challenges have arisen because the program is a serious time investment for those serving on the committee.

“Our biggest problem has been finding committee members who want to give their time.” Daniel goes on to note that some people simply don’t have the time to dedicate to the committee.

However, the program has been a success for close to two decades now because many of the same people offer their time and resources to the program year after year.

“Every year, we’re really lucky that we have the same people who help us,” Daniel said.