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NEXGEN program teaches leadership skills

Juniors Abby Shavers and Ella Tichy learned leadership and other skills through the Leadership Southern Indiana NEXGEN youth program that they plan to continue to apply throughout their life. They attended three virtual sessions and an in-person session (which included graduation) this school year to improve their financial literacy, life skills, and leadership skills.

Ella, a member of the House of Humility, said she signed up to participate because she wanted to become a better leader as a way to help her community and practice philanthropy. What she most got out of the sessions was how to work better as a team, which actually has its own skill set.

“You had to work with other people without overpowering anyone or not doing anything and letting everyone else do the work,” Ella said.

Ella and Abby were in the same group of about 17 students, and their group was tasked with supporting the non-profit organization Align Southern Indiana and its kindergarten readiness efforts. The organization, which works to bring together community resources and implement solutions to problems in the five Southern Indiana counties, came up with a $10,000 wish list of items for their group to fulfill.

Each member was tasked with raising funds in order to purchase those items. Ella reached out to her fellow parishioners at St. John Paul II Catholic Community, whose contributions totaled about $1,000.

Abby, who is a junior executive delegate for the House of Courage, helped her House organize a Candy Gram drive to bring cheer to Providence students and raise money for the wish list. The Candy Gram drive gave students the opportunity to have candy and an encouraging note delivered for $1 each and raised $168. Abby said she liked being able to explain to students about the purpose of the fundraising and seeing them go from being hesitant to buy a Candy Gram to being eager to buy one.

Ella said she originally was skeptical the group could meet its goal and doubted that each member would participate. Yet everyone did raise different amounts, including organizing a fundraiser at a local restaurant. Together, they met their $10,000 goal.

“It made me feel good,” Ella said. “We all just worked together.”

Working together was more challenging than if all the sessions were held in person, both girls said, especially as they learned to work through technical difficulties. Getting the word out about their fundraiser was also more difficult, but the group overcame all those challenges to succeed.

Abby said she also learned a lot about how mental health impacted communities since each session included a speaker presenting on a different mental health topic. She and Ella encourage the sophomore students to sign up for next year’s class because of all they learned.

“Everything we talked about, whether it was mental health or financial literacy or life skills, it was all tied into becoming a better leader within our community,” Abby said.

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