Sum­mit slated to draw 3,000 stu­dents

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - MEGAN STACEY

A con­fer­ence for young lead­ers prom­ises to bring thou­sands of stu­dents to Lon­don this spring for what’s be­ing billed as Lon­don’s largest con­ven­tion ever.

The Global Stu­dent Lead­er­ship Sum­mit will roll into town in April, at­tract­ing 3,000 young peo­ple from more than 20 coun­tries for three days of net­work­ing, work­shops and in­spi­ra­tional speak­ers.

Stu Saun­ders, chair of the sum­mit, said the con­ven­tion would fill ev­ery down­town ho­tel and restau­rant in Lon­don. He pegged the eco­nomic im­pact at $3 mil­lion over the course of the con­fer­ence.

“A con­fer­ence of this size has never taken place in Lon­don, On­tario. It’s the largest con­ven­tion, as far as we can tell, ever held,” Saun­ders told a crowd at the Lon­don Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Wed­nes­day.

That will be the site for the sum­mit, which will fea­ture more than 60 guest speak­ers on top­ics like com­mu­nity build­ing, healthy schools, the en­vi­ron­ment and so­cial ac­tivism.

The sum­mit is a new project for Saun­ders’s or­ga­ni­za­tion, Youth Lead­er­ship Camps Canada, which runs lead­er­ship and de­vel­op­ment pro­grams for young peo­ple.

Lon­don is the first lo­ca­tion for the con­fer­ence, though it may ex­pand to other coun­tries in fu­ture years.

“It’s guar­an­teed to be an event that will in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers. That’s re­ally the whole point,” Saun­ders said.

Mayor Matt Brown went fur­ther, say­ing it could change young peo­ple’s lives.

“They’re go­ing to feel ready to go out there and make a dif­fer­ence,” he said. “This isn’t go­ing to be a snap­shot in time, be­cause the feel­ing they get from par­tic­i­pat­ing . . . is go­ing to stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

But he also ar­gued the sum­mit would ben­e­fit Lon­don as a whole, cit­ing the eco­nomic im­pact of thou­sands of young peo­ple spend­ing money down­town.

Western Univer­sity’s Huron Univer­sity Col­lege is part­ner­ing to help bring the sum­mit to Lon­don. Its prin­ci­pal, Barry Craig, said the school was ex­cited about the guests that will flood into the city this April.

“We have a prime need for vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship,” he said.

“The sum­mit will bring in thou­sands of young peo­ple who are step­ping up.” mstacey@post­ twit­­ganatLFPress

It’s the largest con­ven­tion, as far as we can tell, ever held (in Lon­don).” Stu Saun­ders, chair­per­son, Global Stu­dent Sum­mit

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