In an effort to develop leadership skills in younger children, Fort Hays State University's Center for Civic Leadership will offer the first-ever middle school leadership conference Saturday, April 5.
The conference, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Memorial Union on the FHSU campus, will focus on strengthening the skills of team-building, motivation, problem-solving, collaboration, creative thinking, communication and decision making.
Aaron Eaton, youth development coordinator and Ellis graduate student, said that the conference will "not be your typical sit-down-and-take-notes conference."
To make the information more appealing to the youth, the teaching will be visually based and hands-on. Students will, for example, role-play several real-life situations and will be asked to provide a response to each one. Afterwards, the instructors will offer suggestions and alternative ways to have handled the situation.
College students from FHSU will also assist in the conference, acting as counselors.
"Younger kids love working with college students," Eaton said. "They feel really connected to them. This really helps in the education process because the kids have fun."
The registration deadline is April 1. Cost is $35; lunch will be included. To register, call Eaton at (785) 628-5597.
The Center for Civic Leadership will work with middle school youths again in the summer when they offer a leadership camp June 9-10.
"It's important to develop these leadership skills at an early age," Eaton said. "They can be used in the school, community and even in the country."
"If youths develop these skills at an early age," she said, "they will be a life-long benefit."