Updated: Feb 17
On February 3, 2018, the first day of 2018 SHIELD Saturday Leadership Academy, the turnout was remarkable as 35 youth participants were confirmed to participate in orientation. Each participant in the program became official receiving their SHIELD Swag, including t-shirts and portfolios as they begin their journey to become better leaders in their families, schools, and communities.
During orientation, the students heard from a former mentee and mentor, Adrea Gladney (pictured left), who answered lots of burning questions from the youth participants about what to expect. Precious Weddington (pictured right) read a poem titled "Equipment" by Edgar Guest. She filled the room with excitement as everyone repeated, "I can." The poem will be emphasized throughout the remainder of the program as a reminder that despite our backgrounds and upbringing we all have the ability to rise to the occasion.
Precious Mckoy, the Founder/Executive Director of the SHIELD Mentor Program, spoke about the history of SHIELD as the organization embarks upon their 10th year of operation. To be on a college campus is a tremendous opportunity and she is thankful to partner with the Office of Leadership and Service Learning on the Campus of UNCG to offer the leadership curriculum to more youth and families. "The parents and youth had an opportunity to go through what most college students often go through during their first day on a college campus. The walking and the exposure to the student union and classroom was not something our parents anticipated, but we provided a real-world experience for our participants. I find that to be of high value and a day our youth will always remember," she says. The program has volunteer mentors ranging from professions like assistant principal, counselor, college students and the like. All which encompass a great makeup for mentoring young people. "We are fully staffed and ready for the challenge of working with youth from grades 4 - 12. Not a lot of programs are serving such a wide range of participants and I am happy to take on the feat," Precious says.
Volunteer staff and presenters worked long and hard for the day and we enjoyed welcoming new youth participants and families to the SHIELD family. Orientation truly begins the journey for a 12-week commitment made by youth participants and their families to focus on their leadership potential and growth. In addition to mentors, the entire organization from parents to volunteers take an invested interest in helping the participants make personal life goals and enjoy the experience of unlocking their dreams.