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West Bladen Students attend Four County EMC’s Youth Leadership Weekend


Miss Olivia Sholar and Mr. Weslier Velaquez, of West Bladen High School, were among twenty area high school juniors who attended the twelfth annual Four County EMC’s Youth Leadership Weekend on March 15 -17 at Camp Kirkwood in Watha.

On Friday afternoon, the students were taught the cooperative business model as well as what makes Four County different from other electricity providers. After that, they participated in an introductory session and initiation games.

On Saturday, the students experienced a full day of leadership training that involved many various team building exercises as well as individual exercises. The students learned and applied several lifelong skills including: teamwork, communication, trust, leadership, decision making, problem solving and self-esteem. On Saturday night, the students were motivated by Lane Ragsdale of Asheboro as he shared the message of how combining his love for people and using his cell phone to share that love saved his life. He is also a fantastic singer and sang a few songs for the group.

On Sunday, Tawana Williams, “The Hope Coach,” motivated the group by delivering her message of hope to the group by discussing the obstacles that she has overcome in her life as she was born without arms and impaired use of her legs. She also performed demonstrations of how she utilizes her feet and toes to perform daily tasks such as putting on socks, tying shoes and even how she fed and changed her daughter’s diaper when she was a baby. Everyone in attendance felt motivated to conquer whatever hurdles that may be in front of them after hearing her phenomenal message.

Before leaving on Sunday, the students reflected back on the weekend and shared what they learned. “The leadership challenges really pushed me to do my best and to work with other people in ways that I haven’t done before. Now, I think leadership is more about bringing out the best in other people and less about putting your own ideas out there,” explained Connor McNamara of Topsail High School. “Leadership to me is someone who helps every teammate know their role and reach their full potential to accomplish the task,” said Olivia Sholar of West Bladen High School.

“Watching someone overcome their fear of heights through the support of all of their peers cheering for them is something that will never get old. This program is teaching young adults how to become better leaders in their schools and communities” said Youth Leadership Weekend Coordinator, Jeremy Dewberry. “The vital skills they learn and develop over the course of the weekend are something they will carry with them the rest of their lives and will prove to be very beneficial in all of their future endeavors.”

In addition to learning leadership skills and overcoming challenges, the students also have an opportunity to write an essay about the weekend experience for a chance to win one of two $1,000 college scholarships. The winners will be announced in late May and will receive the scholarships once enrolled in college.


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