As baby boomers approach retirement, much concern is placed on issues related to retiree health availability, long-term care and how to produce income in retirement. However, little emphasis has been placed on America’s next generation of active citizens and how they will continue to support their communities, until now.
Three years ago, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' Education Policy Team recommended the "creation of a statewide leadership development initiative to encourage and develop future leaders for Kansas." In response to this recommendation, Fort Hays State University’s Center for Civic Leadership created an all-inclusive, year-round youth leadership program, the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy.
KYLA is a statewide, comprehensive and all-inclusive program designed to promote youth leadership development. Through a variety of training camps and youth leadership seminars, KYLA actively encourages young Kansas, between the ages of 12 and 18, to live safe and healthy lives and to become active community members who serve as life-long citizen leaders.
“We have served thousands of kids in hundreds of schools across the state,” said KYLA Director Cathie Klein. “From Elkhart to Atchison, and Parsons to St. Francis, our camps and seminars are conveniently located to ensure all students have the opportunity to attend.”
Utilizing FHSU faculty, area school teachers, community leaders, and college students as Certified Leadership Trainers, KYLA focuses on themes that will provide students with the knowledge, behaviors and motivation to participate in the leadership process. The conceptual model for citizen leadership by which the Academy operates consists of character education, civic education and leadership education.
In 2005, the McDonald’s Owner-Operators of Kansas saw a tremendous opportunity to continue their philanthropy of making a difference in the lives of children, and made a commitment to sponsor the Academy for a two-year period.
Because of the generosity of the McDonald’s owner-operators, 2005-2006 was KYLA's most successful year.
“McDonald’s has a tradition of fostering youth development and leadership,” said Klein. “We are honored that they have chosen to work with us to carry out a vision that we truly believe is possible for our Kansas youth.”
One of KYLA’s most recent initiatives, “Leadership on & off the Field,” focuses on leadership development for the student athlete. The program highlights the leadership skills athletes use in their given arena and instructs students on how to transfer those skills to their daily lives.
The first Leadership on & off the Field conference is scheduled for March 2007 at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita.
Another recent initiative, “Hidden Heroes,” is a program paying particular attention to the student who has yet to discover his or her leadership skills due to lack of opportunities, or difficult financial or family situations.
The academy also provides programs such as “Leadership Connections,” a tool for KYLA participants to use to stay connected with one another and the KYLA staff; Academy Seminars designed for students and sponsors who participate in a day of training on various components of leadership; specialized trainings, leadership development programs tailored to meet the needs of the individual organizations; and annual summer camps, a chance for middle-and-high school students to build their leadership skills while collaborating with other students in a fun, enthusiastic environment.
Now, with a 12 month program in place, KYLA is meeting the demand requested by Governor Sebelius and doing its part to prepare America’s youth for an exciting, yet demanding future.