Leaders of Future Generations (LFG) is a school-based prevention program offered by Compass Mark for middle and high school youth who exhibit leadership potential. Students, mentors, Compass Mark facilitators, and youth advocates meet together for 12 weeks during their afterschool program to explore topics such as communication, personal values, managing conflict, and leadership. LFG is designed to reduce students’ risk factors by developing individual leadership skills and strengthening personal resiliency.
During the 12 weeks, students are given the opportunity to come up with a community service project to benefit their school or community in some way. This project is first introduced to the students by asking them what they think a “perfect world” looks like. For some kids, you could expect to hear things such as never-ending video games or candy shops on every corner. However, the topics our LFG students bring up make it evident not only how much they see and witness in their own communities but how they envision a world without violence, drugs, poverty, homelessness, and bullying.
Once a topic is chosen, the students work together to present their project pitch to their school administration as well as Compass Mark administration. After approval is given, the students start preparing for their event. In the past our students have succeeded with creating projects such as food drives, giving away care packages to their peers experiencing homelessness, kindness campaigns throughout their schools and many more impactful ventures.
This past month, the students at Landis Run Intermediate School in Manheim Township School District created a Building Community Day to spread kindness throughout their school. The students created large banners and hung them in the walkways of their school and designed bracelets to be given out to every student in their school. They started their day by delivering candy grams with thank you notes to all of the support staff in their school. Next, they visited their fellow classmates in the special needs classroom and read books to the students. Finally, they ended their building community day by mixing up students in each classroom with other classrooms in an effort to help them get to know kids they may not have known very well before this day. The students completed team building activities and get-to-know-you exercises, including a final activity that involved writing something kind about their new partners on a feather. The feathers were then attached to the wings of a giant bird that was hung in the school’s hallway for all to see and remains there today.
The LFG program also works with students at Lincoln Middle School and Reynolds Middle School in the School District of Lancaster. These groups are not as far along in their 12-week process; however, they too have come up with some inspiring ideas for their service projects! Lincoln Middle School saw homelessness and poverty as a pinnacle issue in their community that they are working to address by volunteering their time at local homeless shelters and food banks. The students at Reynolds Middle School chose to focus more inward at their school community and the issue of bullying and unkind behavior that they witness day to day. To address this issue, the students are designing a spirit week for their fellow students to partake in that will include inspirational messaging, encouraging quotes found on bracelets and posters as well as dress-down options to help promote qualities of good leaders such as creativity, acceptance of differences and focusing on future goals. The students’ project will culminate with a support group opportunity for any student who may feel left out or just needs a pick-me-up. The students are excited and proud that they can make such an impact on their community.
Leaders of Future Generations gives students the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat with issues they want to have an influence on. It allows students to see what truly goes into work like this and how it takes a community of people and strong leaders to create positive change in this world. They may be small in stature but their voices are big and capable of making a difference!