Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Five Higher Achievement Scholars Attend International Leadership Camp in Rhode Island

On July 17th, five Higher Achievement scholars departed Washington, DC for Providence, Rhode Island to attend the weeklong Youth United for Global Action and Awareness (YUGA) Leadership Camp. The YUGA Leadership Camp is a peer education program designed to help youth build their leadership skills and gain in-depth knowledge on issues affecting youth around the world. The opportunity was made possible through the generous support of Plan International USA, who reserved five spots for Higher Achievement at no cost to the program or our families.

Johnnie (Ward 6), Destyni (Ward 6), Gabby (Ward 4), Zavier (Ward 1), and Olaoluwa (Ward 1), were chosen for the experience as strong representatives of Higher Achievement and their fellow scholars. Together, these five scholars participated in youth-led workshops on a variety of topics, such as: religious acceptance, HIV/AIDS, and the earthquake in Haiti. In the afternoon, scholars had their choice of more typical camp activities like kayaking, hiking, and arts and crafts.

For many scholars this was a week of firsts: first time away from their family, the first time flying on an airplane, the first time they had to worry about ticks! Although there was uncertainty about what camp would be like, they each returned with smiles on their faces and appreciation for the experience. “I did not think the camp was going to be that fun. I thought we would just sit in a classroom and learn like at school,” said Olaoluwa. “I was so wrong. Camp was amazing and we got to do fun stuff and learn in an interactive way”.

YUGA was more than just a cool experience for these scholars; it truly expanded the lenses through which they view their world: “Camp not only showed me that many people have less than I do, but that I can do many things in my own area to help others”.

At Higher Achievement, we work with scholars to be global citizens who are active participants in their community. The partnership with Plan International USA allowed our scholars to engage more fully in this process, helping them to embark on a great journey of self discovery, pushing them to think about the world outside of their own communities.