Empowering youth: NAACP Leadership Summit encourages teens to get involved
Olliea Jarrett hopes that some youth in Bonner Springs are ready to “break free as leaders.”
To do that, they need to be involved not only in school and church, but also in the community. So on Saturday, at a Youth Leadership Summit organized by the Bonner Springs chapter of the NAACP, she told a group of young people that to become leaders, they needed both self esteem and a passion for their cause.
“Self esteem is not being afraid to know who you are, know you have something to give,” said Jarrett, president of the Bonner Springs chapter. “One of the things that you have to do when you’re looking to be part of the community is you have to know that you have a voice.”
The summit welcomed about 13 youth Saturday to learn not only about leadership, but also about how reading can improve their communication skills, how to manage their finances, how to stay safe online and how to improve interaction with law enforcement.
The NAACP also used the summit to help in its effort to form a Youth Council.
Linda Horvath, a former Bonner Springs High School art teacher who now is helping with the formation of the Youth Council, said she got involved hoping to give back to the community that she felt gave so much to her when she was a teacher. She said proposing the summit was one way to do so.
“I’m not seeing enough youth taking leadership roles, and who is going to take over when we are gone?” she said. “Also a lot of youth are not aware of the opportunities out there to help them make improvements in their lives.”
Speakers at the event encouraged the youngsters to find their passion and get involved. Ronald Sutton, vice president of the NAACP chapter, told participants another important part of having self esteem and being a leader is being comfortable in their own skin.
“One thing I always said is I’m never going to change who I am,” he said. “Once you define who you are, nobody can take that away from you … make sure you define who you are and make sure you are who you want to be.”
They also asked for idea on what younger people would like to do to improve the community.
When she noticed that some of the youth were slow to respond and speaking softly when they did, Teresa Bolton, NAACP member, even took a moment for an impromptu lesson on public speaking and speaking in groups of strangers.
“Once you get out there, you might have a lot to say, you might have something important to say,” she said. “But if we can’t hear you, we are missing out.”
Horvath said she hopes this event and future events will help spread awareness of the NAACP and its mission of promoting social justice. They are looking for at least 25 members to form an official Youth Council and have planned a “Meet and Greet” for those interested 5-6 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Bonner Springs City Library.
For more information, contact Horvath at 785-843-3971.