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Review for EDGE Youth Leadership (formerly NCYLS), San Leandro, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I've had the pleasure of volunteering for NCYLS and can comment first-hand about the impact this organization has on people's lives. Of course, I went in thinking it would be a good use of my volunteer time, for something I believe in, but I had no idea how much it would change my perspective, nor was I prepared for the remarkable transformation the young people go through during the weekend. Barriers of all sorts came crashing down in a focused and humor-filled environment. But the end, we were not only a huge family, but all of us came away with action plans to implement leadership skills out in the world. What I love most about this organization, however, is their philosophy on the nomination process. Most organizations offer this kind of leadership development training to straight-A, Harvard-bound kids who have demonstrated they know how to function in 'the system.' So in a way, it's more of the same-old, same-old, 'looks good on a college app' behavior to attend the event. However, NCYLS encourages schools to nominate people who evidence leadership tendencies that can include students on the fringe of the 'normal' system. Perhaps the student is a strong character in their own clique, or an at-risk kid who has a knack for aiming a spotlight on a group or issue, or even a quiet student who evidences a diplomatic flair for easing classroom tensions. When these kids get nominated for attendance and get the chance to go, their lives are forever changed. I saw some incredibly disenfranchised kids develop trust in their fellows. By the end of the conference, those 'outcasts' were profoundly moved by the experience of working and creating side-by-side with other cultural or social groups. Suddenly, all the perks of 'luckier' kids were available to these eccentric students and the playing field for success was leveled in their favor. The experience certainly reframed my reality, and that was an unexpected boon.

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Very Well

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Role:  Volunteer