LHS Dare2Care Project Out To Develop Student Leaders For Tolerance
A Cleveland-based nonprofit has teamed with Lakewood High School to offer four incoming sophomores experiences of a lifetime over the next three summers. The group, Dare2Care, through a partnership with the nationwide Global Youth Leadership Institute (GYLI) aims to develop the students into leaders who can help promote a message of tolerance and acceptance among their peers and help stop bullying, particularly of LGBT and perceived LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) students.
On June 25, Devon Chodzin, Ann Elaban, Sarah Matthiesen and Meghan Tyburski along with their LHS advisers Matt Heslep and Alison Breckel, boarded a schooner in Mystic, Connecticut, for a five-day voyage where the team will work together as the crew for the ship. It is the first of three trips, all paid for by Dare2Care, that are designed to teach the “student ambassadors” teamwork, cooperation, leadership development exposing them to new environments and situations that give them a more global perspective.
Following sophomore year, the group will work at a spiritual retreat in New Mexico, then after junior year it’s off to Costa Rica and EARTH University to learn about sustainability. After each summer experience, the four are expected to develop a “Learning Leadership Plan” to engage their peers in open and honest dialogue with each other and to rally their school community to participate in activities and/or programs that improve their social and physical environment.
“I am excited to bring this kind of programming to Lakewood High School because I believe it will help foster positive and inclusive community for all LHS students,” said adviser and Spanish teacher Matt Heslep. “It is imperative that LHS continues to actively promote understanding and engagement between the diverse communities that we serve.”
The program is a pilot project at LHS that Dare2Care hopes to expand to more high schools in the future. The program was open only to last school year’s freshmen as it requires participation in four summer sessions. Twenty-five students applied for the four slots, which were awarded based on the winning applicants’ “passion and vision for equality” as was expressed in four short-essay answers on their application and in interviews with the selection panel.
The students are all eager to develop their leadership skills and learn more about how the can help promote tolerance in the halls of LHS.
“I know that this (bullying) is a problem and that something needs to be done about it,” said Meghan Tyburski. “I believe that I have the leadership skills and the incentive to make a change at Lakewood High School and my community.”
Devon Chodzin is looking forward to putting into action the leadership skills and the experience of working on a common goal with others he hopes to gain from the Dare2Care programs.
“I was raised to understand that all people are great in some way, and that all people deserve equal treatment,” Chodzin said. “This program will combine leadership abilities with tolerance promotion, which go hand in hand. It makes me very excited to have an opportunity to take action on an issue I didn't previously know how to.”