Choose Your Own Adventure Leadership Conference
University Student Council at The University of Western Ontario
November 18, 2012
Overview:The University Student’s Council and The University of Western Ontario recognize that many students decide their future educational pathways at an early age. The Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) Leadership Conference is a program run for “at-risk”, low income, low represented youth in the city of London. The organization works with a representative from the City of London to target schools that have been deemed to have a higher population of students that may deem post-secondary education out of their reach. A team of about 50 university students is assembled to act as Leadership Developers (LD’s) who are essentially mentors or leaders for the grade 8 students for the weekend, from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. The goals of the LD’s are to provide an upbeat, exciting and above all, open learning environment for these youth to get excited about the idea of post-secondary education. The LD’s provide support, information, motivation, and above all, hope for the grade 8 students. The grade 8 students are able to make a very personal connection with these LD’s and can seek guidance with issues they are facing or will face in the tough high school years ahead.
We work with a representative from the city of London to seek out schools that have many students who are at the low end of the socio-economic scale. We deal with a lot of students who are losing interest in school and are not motivated to pursue higher education, many students doubt their abilities to even finish high school. My program provides them with essentially a new lease on life, and a new motivation and inspiration to pursue the higher levels of education in order to get a better life than what they are currently living. We help find them volunteer opportunities in the community as well as provide a never-ending mentorship throughout their high-school years.
At last year's conference the amount of grade 8 students that had already ruled out post-secondary education was jaw dropping. Moreover, the amount that felt that finishing high school wasn't in their realm of possibility was almost heart breaking. CYOA intends break barriers and point out the possibilities to these grade 8 students. We promote staying in school and getting a good education in order to provide a better way of life for them and their future families.
By the end of the weekend it is apparent that we have made a difference just by the amount of students that want to go to Western and Fanshawe (the two schools we visit). They realize that their dreams can become a reality and that nothing is impossible.
Sponsoring this project falls directly in line with the USC’s principles and mission statement. With this program’s ability to enhance undergraduate students learning experiences as well enhance a student’s quality of life through community volunteering, the USC fully supports this endeavor. Furthermore, the USC encourages students to contribute to not only the University but the community at large. This program involves UWO students, but most important involves middle school and high school students from around London. Not only does this program involve students but it gives back to the community itself through volunteer opportunities, community awareness and promoting post-secondary options to students which will benefit students and the community in the near future.