Heroes in Training

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Contributor: Michele Losey, Youth Board Advisor and Teen Symposium Coordinator at United Way Fox Cities

Whew! My third year coordinating Teen Symposium just wrapped up! This year’s youth leadership event, co-sponsored by United Way Fox Cities and the YMCA of the Fox Cities, focused on the theme “Be Your Own HERO: Honesty Empathy Respect Open-Mind.” The event concentrated on helping students develop their own leadership skills with an emphasis on team work, problem solving, critical thinking, and civic engagement. (View photos from Teen Symposium 2016.)

We had an amazing year with our biggest turnout yet. Overall, more than 450 people were present at Teen Symposium 2016 and each one is a HERO to me! Let me tell you about the numbers:

  • 326 freshmen students from 18 different schools and Youth Go participated in various leadership activities, listened to guest speakers and created a group action plan to make a difference in their own schools and communities.

  • In addition, 30 school advisors attended Teen Symposium. They too had the chance to network and gain perspective from fellow staff members, sharing stories and improving their own leadership curriculum.

  • During lunch, students visited a resource fair coordinated by the Volunteer Center of East Central WI, and talked with 30 different nonprofit agencies to learn more about the volunteer needs in our community.

  • More than 20 adult volunteers helped greet the arriving schools including staff members from United Way Fox Cities, the YMCA of the Fox Cities and ThedaCare.

  • About 50 student volunteers from the United Way Fox Cities Youth Board, Kaukauna National Honor Society and Neenah Launch Leaders were also present to help facilitate the activities.

Needless to say I am very impressed, thankful and overwhelmed by all the effort put towards Teen Symposium! The leadership ripple effect from the students who participate is priceless, one we might not be able to calculate. Each year, students leave with a little more confidence than they arrive with and hopefully feel motivated to make positive change in their school and community.