Carmel students learn leadership through service, training program

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CIC COM 0327 ProAct
University High School students build a labyrinth at IPS School No. 65. (Submitted photo)

By Chris Bavender

The Jefferson Awards Foundation Indianapolis and ProAct Indy have partnered to provide leadership development opportunities for teens participating in the Jefferson Awards Foundation’s Students in Action program.

“The goal of our partnership is to provide meaningful education about community service and service-learning,” said Derrin Slack, ProAct Indy executive director. “We intend to train participating youth at these conferences on how to plan, execute and educate effective service projects at their school.”

ProAct is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that works with urban youth to build “solid foundations based on relationships and service to help address poverty and education,” according to its website. The Students in Action Program offers intensive training for student leaders and empowers them to choose their own public service passion and engage larger groups to maximize their impact.

“The program encourages teenagers to positively impact their schools, communities and world,” Slack said. “By leveraging the expertise and program curriculum of ProAct, the two organizations can have a greater impact on the youth participants who engage in the conference.”

It is all part of ProAct Indy’s mission to engage youth in public service that educates and inspires the teens and those they serve.

“We work in partnership with community leaders and professional organizations to provide community outreach service projects for marginal youth in the Greater Indianapolis area,” Slack said. “Our students work alongside adult volunteers who encourage positive community engagement, filling the gap many of these kids have for a positive adult role model.”

One of the participating schools is Carmel’s University High School.

“University High School usually brings 12 to 15 students, their Students in Action Leadership Team, to the leadership trainings. The team will then engage the rest of the school community around the different service projects they are working on,” Slack said. “University High School is unique in that they have a program called a Year of Service, which is a school-wide program where all 304 of their students learn about sustainable and authentic service to their communities.”

Through the partnership, ProAct Indy and the Jefferson Awards Foundation serve more than 300 teens in Marion and Tippecanoe counties through the leadership conferences.

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