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Coexistence -- Teen Leadership

October 9, 2007

The Coexistence Student Leadership workshop was funded by the Riverboat Development Authority. The funds provided students with a manual, books from Teaching Tolerance on things they could do back in their schools, and seed money to fund their action plans. The funds also provided their adult sponsors with a teacher and student manual, a Coexistence book, Coexistence posters, and two teaching kits from Teaching Tolerance: The Shadow of Hate a History of Intolerance in America and A Place at the Table Struggles for Equality in America. The materials are to be used to assist the students in continuing the message the Coexistence Art Exhibit brought to the Quad Cities, August 31st through September 27th. The goal is for the students to develop a year long action plan to involve other students in their high school with the ideas and concepts of a peaceful coexistence. The hope is the high school students will find the activities around coexistence to be valuable enough to establish a school organization, so the message will go beyond this year. The students' comments about the Coexistence Student Leadership workshop were extremely positive. Many of them expressed the wish all high school students could participate in the Coexistence Student Leadership workshop. They felt if every student participated it would help to create a positive school climate and better relationships between students. One student said, "I really liked it because we all can relate to the information that was presented. I feel like I really want to pass this information on now." The adult sponsors are hoping that is just what the students do. Dr. Glenn Pelecky, Chief Administrator of the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency challenged and inspired the youth to step-up to the leadership plate. He told the students being present at the event indicated they were already identified as leaders and now it was up to them to carry out being leaders. One student's response to Dr. Pelecky's message was, "We need to get the message of leadership and working together into the schools as soon as possible." Other student comments were: "It gave us the opportunity to really start something." "It really opens peoples' eyes about the situations." "Keep this going. It's very powerful." "It's going to help us with good causes to help our school out and communicate more with everyone," In order to continue the excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency will be starting a blog for the core leadership teams to share ideas of what they are doing in their respective schools to spread the message of coexistence. Representatives from each leadership team will meet again to finalize the Scott County Youth Action Plan Statement to promote a unified message of tolerance, coexistence, and inclusiveness across all high schools.

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