80 youth leaders from 12 schools participate in expanded regional leadership program
Leadership Niagara kicked off a new program year for its eight-month youth leadership development program, LYNC, at Camp Kenan in Barker this weekend. Eighty student leaders from 12 Western New York high schools gathered together for two days of orientation, leadership skills and concepts, high ropes and camping.
LYNC, in its 14th year, is a program of Leadership Niagara that expanded to 12 schools in the region with the support of the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation. Students from Barker, Grand Island, Lewiston-Porter, Lockport, Newfane, Niagara Catholic, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Royalton-Hartland, Starpoint and Wilson high schools come together at different locations each month with Leadership Niagara to learn and practice leadership values and principles.
"To us, leaders are people who practice leadership," explained Molly Anderson, executive director of Leadership Niagara. "Our program is designed to instill a leadership attitude in all of our participants and prepare them to contribute to society and the world. We work with mentors and facilitators who not only offer diverse experiences, but who are also positive, nourishing and uplifting."
The orientation was held at YMCA's Camp Kenan and was developed in collaboration with its director, Luke Kantor, to include outdoor activities and leadership challenges.
"I am excited for the tremendous possibilities for YMCA Camp Kenan that come through working with Leadership Niagara, and especially the LYNC program," Kantor said. "Teen leadership programs such as these are important to our programming and our area."
Leadership Niagara and The Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation have committed to providing the youth leadership program to 400 high school students over the next five years.
"We are incredibly grateful to the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation for their commitment to LYNC, especially in lieu of the budget crises being faced by many school districts," said Frank P. Mergl, chair of the Leadership Niagara board of Directors. "This partnership with the Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation lays the groundwork for our LYNC program that will allow more young people than ever before to develop their leadership skills."
The Irene E. Witkowski-Agrawal Foundation, according to its founder, Prabhakar Agrawal, is about "encouraging and teaching young people to depend on themselves; and to succeed in their lives by being honest."
He added, "If they can achieve that, they are likely to find much happiness in their lives and contribute to society much more than the present trend of fraud, deceit and deceptions that are so prevalent worldwide. That is how my deceased wife would have done it. So my foundation is to remember her for her honesty and values."
Leadership Niagara is the longest-running community leadership development program in New York. Since 1984, LN has brought people together through a yearlong program to learn about the issues and industries that impact the Niagara region. More than 1,200 leaders from Western New York have participated in Leadership Niagara.
For more information, visit www.leadershipniagara.org.