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SPRINGFIELD SUMMER LEADERSHIP PROGRAM

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Program Description

Berkshire Outdoor Center has collaborated with the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation to deliver what has been an exciting and innovative five-week summer enrichment experience for 65 of Springfield’s youth. This experience is called Springfield Summer Leadership Program (SSLP), a community-based day-camp program with a mission to create future responsible youth leaders. SSLP systematically uses community engagement, problem-based learning, and a mentoring team approach to help these youth improve their academic achievement in the fall, foster personal growth, and promote community involvement by empowering them for their future leadership roles. Our goal is to provide them with the tools needed to play an active role in creating healthy communities in their schools; as well as in their own family lives.

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This project-based, problem solving experience was grounded in the realities of issues that students identified in their community, and was facilitated by youth development staff who are leaders in the outdoor education industry as well as young educators and community youth workers. The children who participated in this program spent time at Forest Park Middle School, experienced the city’s facilities and grounds at Forest Park and used the Forest Park branch library; as well as, researched their team PowerPoint presentations for community problem solving at Springfield College’s Babson Library. After the first two weeks of personal challenges and team building, the enrichment program’s focus shifted from individual growth and skill building to community issues. Youth were given a real-life problem statement that had meaning to them and that was tied directly to their community, and provided the resources and space to learn about the issues, develop an action plan, and refine their solution. This project will culminate in a presentation by the youth in front of a large audience at Springfield College’s Fuller Arts Center and they will have an opportunity to show their solid problem-solving and public speaking skills, but most importantly, they will have developed an awareness of social issues faced daily within their community.

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