Pre­par­ing Ni­a­gara’s youth for the fu­ture

The Welland Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - RAY SPITERI

It’s a stu­dent-cre­ated and stu­dent-run con­fer­ence for stu­dents.

And it con­tin­ues to grow each year, with new ses­sions aimed at help­ing teenagers con­tinue to de­velop the skills needed, but not nec­es­sar­ily taught in class­rooms, to suc­ceed now and in the fu­ture.

The Ni­a­gara Falls Mayor’s Youth Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee is or­ga­niz­ing the third an­nual Ni­a­gara Stu­dent Sum­mit, sched­uled to take place Oct. 11 at Brock Univer­sity.

“The pur­pose re­ally is to pro­vide re­sources and skills that you can’t learn in school, so soft skills that we don’t get taught,” said Erica Ge­orge, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee and co-chair of its youth voice sub­com­mit­tee plan­ning the sum­mit.

She said the sum­mit is open to all high-school stu­dents across Ni­a­gara, and will al­low par­tic­i­pants to col­lab­o­rate with like-minded stu­dents, and meet and hear from speak­ers who are ex­perts in var­i­ous fields.

The sum­mit will fea­ture four ses­sions. Each ses­sion will in­clude seven or eight top­ics, and those who reg­is­ter for the sum­mit get to choose their first and sec­ond choice for each ses­sion.

The key­note speaker will be Eric Woelfl, a rower who rep­re­sented Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games, as well as at sev­eral world cham­pi­onships and Pan Amer­i­can Games.

Mayor Jim Dio­dati will be the sum­mit’s clos­ing speaker.

It costs $20 to reg­is­ter for the sum­mit, which in­cludes lunch and park­ing. Reg­is­tra­tion opens Fri­day and closes Sept. 29.

To reg­is­ter, and for more in­for­ma­tion, visit dis­cover.brocku.ca./ni­a­gara-stu­dent-sum­mit.

Ge­orge said one of the many in­ter­est­ing top­ics will be about the im­por­tance of face to face in­ter­ac­tions.

“One of the ses­sions is ... how to talk one to one - eye con­tact, how to present your­self in front of an au­di­ence, rather than just hav­ing an on­line pro­file,” she said.

Beth An­gle, a staff li­ai­son with the com­mit­tee, said the soft-skills pres­ence in the sum­mit was driven by the youth.

“It was them say­ing, ‘yeah, we need to be able to talk to peo­ple, we need to be able to in­ter­act and make a dif­fer­ence,’” she said.

Ge­orge said the goal is to at­tract 400 high-school stu­dents to the sum­mit this year.

She said al­though An­gle has helped to or­ga­nize the sum­mit, she “lets (the youth) kind of take the lead.”

“We get to pick our ses­sion top­ics, tim­ing, what we want to pro­vide for lunch, etc., so our small sub­com­mit­tee, we would make all of the de­ci­sions, and then we would run it by all of MYAC as a whole, and by Beth as well.”

An­gle said it’s the com­mit­tee mem­bers who run the sum­mit.

“They do all the speak­ing, in­tro­duc­ing, help­ing with reg­is­tra­tion in the morn­ing. I’m more be­hind the scenes, mak­ing sure to con­nect with speak­ers that will run th­ese work­shops.”

She said the sum­mit ben­e­fits both mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, as well as the at­tend­ing high-school stu­dents.

“Our first group who sort of cre­ated this con­cept and pushed it for­ward, what a sense of ac­com­plish­ment that they could do this for other stu­dents, and see­ing it hap­pen,” said An­gle.

“They de­velop so many skills as they were do­ing it – cor­re­spond­ing with Brock Univer­sity, and speak­ing with work­shop lead­ers. For the stu­dents who come, there’s a bunch of dif­fer­ent (ben­e­fits). One, even just ex­po­sure to be­ing on a cam­pus, be­ing more com­fort­able there. They’ll build some con­fi­dence, and some skills.”

JULIE JOCSAK/POST­MEDIA NEWS

Erica Ge­orge, a high school stu­dent at A.N. Myer, is part of the Ni­a­gara Falls Mayor's Youth Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee that is or­ga­niz­ing this year's Ni­a­gara Stu­dent Sum­mit to be held Oct. 11 at Brock Univer­sity.

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