Extended Family staff and volunteers work hard every week to inspire our Extended Leadership Academy (ELA) students, but so often our amazing students inspire us! ELA is unique in that we begin each series by asking Our Kids about the qualities of their dream jobs. Of course, money is a popular answer, but we also get so many thoughtful answers about helping others, making a difference, being valued for their talents, and having a career that allows them to continue to learn and grow. After we gather the information, we develop the remainder of the 18-week series around the interests of the students and their chosen career paths. Volunteer speakers present lessons for ELA about their jobs and help the students develop a plan to get to where they want to go. Community leaders talk to ELA groups about ethics and other values that encourage good citizenship and promote moral character.
ELA covers topics including job readiness and interviewing skills, maintaining healthy lives physically, mentally, and in their relationships, and communication skills, including using social media appropriately and the power of a thank-you note. Our goal is to help Our Kids plan for their futures, while giving them the skills they need to achieve their goals and be successful as spouses, parents, friends, employees, and citizens. Different speakers who help us reach our students, many of whom are identified as “at-risk,” have included medical personnel, judges, law enforcement officers, counselors, business owners, elected officials, and many others from various careers and walks of life.
After ELA began in 2018, we wanted to choose a motto that reflected the program and encompassed all that we try to accomplish with each group of students. Who better to ask for advice than the students in the program? One ELA group of high school students captured exactly the idea that we want to instill in each of our ELA participants, “Lead Yourself!” We quickly adopted this concept as our motto and strive daily to provide Our Kids with the tools they need to build their own futures for themselves, a message that is empowering and builds confidence within each of our students to pursue their own goals and dreams.
We are continuously inspired by Our Kids and are committed to helping them create their unique pathways for success. To learn more about ELA and other Extended Family programs, visit our website at www.extendedfamilyhelp.org.