LA CROSSE, Wis. - While many students are busy enjoying their summer some have headed back to the classroom to learn important leadership skills that will be used on a reservation in South Dakota.
“Youth Leadership Camp is a week-long camp that happens on the Pine Ridge Reservation for the communities of Kyle and Wamble,” said Annette O’Hern, Health Science Academy director. “Our Health Science Academy students, as well as, some of our instructors put on the camp to build leadership skills in Lakota teens.”
The Health Science Academy students spent a day at Logan High School in July working with a leadership expert learning different activities to show how easy it can be to make judgments and to be judged.
“When you're doing something, and busy doing it, you don't realize people are watching you and taking any type of judgement,” said Patty Hendrickson, owner of Hendrickson Leadership Group, Inc. “So we'll talk about what it means to be judged, and how we shouldn't judge other people.”
It’s a life lesson that will help these students teach the focus of this year's camp to the Lakota teens.
“This time we are going to be concentrating on eight characteristics of a leader and developing strong character,” said O’Hern.
“You want them to learn to be the person who is going to lift them back up instead of dig them down,” said Emily Foust, Logan High School senior and Health Science Academy student. “So they don't feel like discriminated against or aren't as equal.”
This is the fifth year La Crosse's Health Science Academy students have made the trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation with a goal of developing a relationship, and also teaching the Lakota teens that they have a voice in their community.
“What was shared with us from the Lakota Tribal elders was that the importance of the teens to take interest in the Lakota culture and also have ownership in their own community,” said O’Hern.
At the same time, the La Crosse area teens come away with lessons of their own.
“I hope to learn about their culture and what is important to them, and how we take things for granted here,” said Foust. “And really understand ... I think it will help us understand ourselves, too, and figure out what is important to us.”
“The skills and the attitudes that our students come back with will then infiltrate into our own community as well,” said O’Hern. “And so sometimes you need to go away a little bit to really appreciate what you do have here. And all of our students do come back with a new ... appreciate, 'How can I help? How can I empower others within our own community?'”
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