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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2009 Youth Leadership Academy Held at SU

By Candice Evans
Staff Writer
The Daily Times

2009 Youth Leadership Academy
Josh Thompson, Phyllicia Ennis and Ayonna Doane tackle a creative environmental project during the Youth Leadership Academy hosted at Salisbury University. The academy is intended to encourage area youth to assume leadership positions in the community. (Brice Stump photo, reprinted with permission of The Daily Times)
SALISBURY, MD---Called "Penelope" by her creators, the female robot with paper clip eyes, rope hair and Dixie cup feet had  the ability to transform harmful pollutants into healthy products.

In theory at least.

"See, we're smart," said Savon Jones, who helped his group make an environmentally friendly object out of 10 paper clips, six paper cups, three rubber bands, one rope, an Ace bandage and a roll of duct tape at the Wicomico Youth Leadership Academy workshop "Transformers II: Rise of the Leaders."

The group had only 10 minutes to complete the "she-bot," which earned a perfect score, on Tuesday.

For the last four years, the Youth Leadership Academy's three-day workshop has allowed students in eighth through 11th grade to build teamwork and leadership skills through instructional sessions on culture, music, religion, gender and the economy.

"The kids identified four problems in the community," said George Whitehead, co-coordinator, who observed classroom discussions on "adolescent pregnancy, drugs, violence and environmental issues" at Salisbury University's Devilbiss Hall.

About 75 Wicomico students participated in the program at no charge, which is intended to encourage area youth to assume leadership positions in the community. The 100 Best Communities for Youth Award received by Salisbury /Wicomico County helped fund the academy, which costs about $8,000 to operate, for the past three years.

This year, the Youth Action Team, consisting of 10 individuals, relied on grant funding and local fundraisers to open the academy again this summer.

"With the guidance of a few dedicated adults, this event is planned by youth for youth," said Paula Morris, co-coordinator, who will oversee the creation of cardboard Transformers after the students' lunch break on Tuesday.

Even though the teenagers only completed day one of the workshop, they managed to cover a wide range of subject matter. And they also shared a few laughs.

During the classroom skit, a faux father-to-be was described as being a "good friend" to the faux pregnant teenager.

"He ain't gonna take care of that baby," said Tara Wynter, 17, an audience member. "Use birth control!"

Reprinted with permission of The Daily Times.



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