Teen Symposium Fosters Community and Develops leaders

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mark Busko


Photograph by Image Studios

Mark (above, left) was featured in the 2010 United Way Annual Report to the community.

Contributor: Marc M. Busko, former Youth Board co-leader and Emcee for the 2014 Teen Symposium

The 2014 Teen Symposium "YOUth, Be the Change" will gather together 400+ ninth graders from 20 area schools and organizations on February 4th to focus on leadership development and community engagement. The event is sponsored by United Way Fox Cities and YMCA of the Fox Cities with support from the Volunteer Center of East Central WI, Youth Go and the Teen Symposium Planning Committee.

From the moment I first walked into the Teen Symposium Conference, I could instantly feel the energy from fellow students. There was music blasting, videos playing and introductions between fellow students being made. This year I will be attending my fourth Teen Symposium Conference, and, no, I'm not still a freshman in high school. After experiencing Teen Symposium, and becoming actively involved with the United Way Fox Cities Youth Board, I wanted to come back each year and help out in any way possible.

What's so incredible about Teen Symposium, and the way the entire conference is set up, is it fosters community, respect, openness and leadership development. As a table facilitator, I have seen numerous students come into the conference who are shy, apprehensive and don't believe they are "leaders". But as the day progresses and we go through a few of the activities, hear from some of the speakers and work with other students from different schools, those same "shy" students are now as friendly as ever. They participate in all of the activities and discussions. And, after the conference is complete, these same students go back into their respective high schools, and affect change in their classes, sports teams, groups of friends and extracurricular organizations.

I will never forget the impact Teen Symposium made on my life and the lives of countless other students. The conference experience helped me develop leadership skills that I used throughout high school, college, and now in my day-to-day work. Teen Symposium has forever made an impact on my life, and I hope to continue to come back year after year to work with hundreds of freshman leaders who will make their own unique dent in the universe. 

Do you want to read more about Teen Symposium? Visit the  Teen Symposium page on our website or "like"  Teen Symposium Fox Valley on Facebook.