STAND students attend first Regional Leadership summit

Published 8:34 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

In July, 17 middle and high school students from across southern Minnesota attended a Regional Youth Summit in Mankato, offering fun challenges and leadership development activities.

Students Taking A New Direction (STAND) joined two other area prevention coalitions from Winona and Fairmont for the event that was held at Minnesota State University in Mankato. 

Five STAND members took part in the first ever regional Leadership Summit. The one-day summit was held at Minnesota State University, Mankato and was part of a partnership with the ASAP (Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention) – Winona, MCSAP (Martin County Substance Abuse Prevention) Coalition & Youth Coalition – Fairmont, Austin Positive Action Coalition (APAC) and the Minnesota Prevention Alliance (MPA).   

“This was a rare opportunity to gather area young people to learn leadership skills,” commented Bill Spitzer, Substance Misuse director of PRC “As well as develop a deeper understanding of the importance of teamwork.”

Students participated in a full day of group-led activities and high ropes challenges. Tea-building activities helped to develop and strengthen communication skills, problem solving, and risk management skills.

Two ASAP student leaders presented to the group on “Finding Your Why.” APAC leaders shared the Upstander Training presentations that STAND students developed and presented to Ellis Middle School students a few years ago.  Upstander Training helps students to become familiar with skills on safely intervening in social situations centered around bullying using an upstander approach instead of being a bystander.

Near the end of the day students had the opportunity to attempt the personal challenges of climbing a 27-foot-tall pole, navigating a high ropes course, scaling a rock wall and free jumping nine feet to a lonely suspended bar. It was the ultimate test of pushing through the mental block that may exist from fear of heights, learning to trust yourself, the team and the ropes safety systems.

The overall goal was to reveal emerging youth leaders.