Leadership Summit Aims to Mentor Area Youths

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt Vincent De Groot
  • 185 ARW Public Affairs
Eighth graders and Airmen from the Sioux City area spent the day together working on leadership and team work. The Airmen from the Iowa National Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Sioux City, Iowa invited youths from Sioux City area schools to participate in the day-long event. The students are challenged to take what they learn back to their schools and create a better leaning environment.

The program is in its second year and organizers hope it will continue to be a useful tool for area schools to use in mentoring and influencing behavior and attitudes. This year 180 students will have attended the training over the two day offering at the Long Lines Community Center in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa.

Senior Master Sgt Tom Fennell, a traditional guardsman with the 185th and full time employee with the Sioux City School system was very excited about the interaction and cooperation with the schools and the Air Guard. "When they go back to their building as a group of thirty, they are going to help raise the bar in their building. Achievement, behavior, attitude, they're going to be all in with their energy engaging all of their other peers into the positive process of wanting to make the classroom a better classroom their school a better school your team a better team, make the world a better place," said Fennell.

The events of the day are not stuffy, sit in your chair and listen, kinds of activities. Each 185th Airman is assigned a station where students will work as a team and take turns leading the group through an activity. At one station students attempt to fold a small tarp in half, in half again and in half a third time while standing on it and not stepping off. Other activities include navigating their way through a small field of "landmines" while blindfolded, using only guidance from the voice of a partner. "The object is to use good communication skills to get their partner to the other end," said Technical Sgt. Julie Smith, a volunteer from the 185th.

One airman who was really getting into his work is Master Sgt. Danny Gale. Gale's station has students managing physical objects as they toss them around the circle, then more objects are added as the game continues. The objects represent things like homework, activities at home and so on. "Focus-focus on what is being sent to you and not worry about everything around you, but focus on one thing at a time," said Gale, when describing the object lesson of his station. The station had two groups competing against each other and the team that dropped an object would do push-ups. Master Sgt. Gale would drop and do push-ups with the students. When the event is over, Gale will have done hundreds of push-ups with the kids.

At the end of the day, the youths and the airmen will have built relationships. Those in attendance will be a part of a growing group who will have new tools to empower them to be a good role model, be a good follower and to find their voice. Then they can convince others to follow their lead.

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