Foundation hopes to create ‘Leaders 4 Life’ | ParkRecord.com

Foundation hopes to create ‘Leaders 4 Life’

Alexandria Gonzalez , The Park Record

School resource officer Corey Allinson, right, teaches Park City students about Dating Safety during the first annueal Leaders 4 Life conference Saturday, Nov. 16, at Park City High School. Christopher Reeves/Park Record.

Five years ago, Park City Chief of Police Wade Carpenter and Cedar City Detective Mike Bleak realized they had seen a lot of troublesome behavior from youth over the years. They decided to create a program to instill leadership skills and prevent destructive behavior in teens.

The Leaders 4 Life Program is a 501(c)(3) foundation that began in southern Utah, but Carpenter said the United Against Bullying Coalition (UABC) in Park City called upon him to bring the two-day conference into town this past weekend on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16.

"We developed the program to provide leadership skills to youth for tools to deal with topics like bullying and self-esteem, that would help create internal and external assets in these children to have the ability to function and be successful in today’s environment in school and work," Carpenter said. "The focus is to look at things like youth alcohol and drug prevention and issues like reducing risky behavior for teens."

The conference at Park City High School this weekend was for youth in town ages 12-18, and he said there was an excellent turnout. Around 150 participants from local schools from diverse backgrounds selected by two counselors from the district attended.

The program was sponsored by the UABC, the Park City Police Department, the Park City Education Foundation, the Park City School District, Treasure Mountain Inn, the Park City Rotary Club, Park City Market and Wasatch Bagel and Grill.

It cost $25 per students to attend, but Carpenter said the UABC offered scholarships for those students who may not have been able to afford the attendance fee. An attendance fee was charged per student to create a sustainable fund, he said.

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The keynote speaker at the conference was Jordan Romero, a world-record breaking mountain climber and author of the book, "No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits." He reached the summit of Mt. Everest when he was 14 and is now a youth mentor across the globe.

Carpenter said he spoke to students in attendance about finding their own Mt. Everest and realizing there are no limitations if they set their minds on the right types of things with the right types of people.

"When children are surrounded by the right kind of people that create positive influences in their lives, they are less likely to engage in destructive behavior," Carpenter said. "Romero’s message — that sometimes succeeding means failing at first and overcoming that failure — was just the right message we wanted to send these kids."

There were four classes students had to attend over the weekend, he said. Alissa Smith and Corey Allinson led "Dating Violence/Safety," describing dating behaviors that were proper, improper or possibly criminal as well as certain character traits to look for to avoid a dangerous situation.

Professional musician Dave Durfee led "Youth United in Music," a discussion about the power of music and its influence. According to the session summary, the purpose was to help students realize the uniting power of music and that whether they are a fan of pop, country or heavy metal music, they may have something in common and are not so different from one another.

David Evans led the "You Lead" class, which Carpenter said was a discussion about the negative impact of alcohol and drug abuse, how young people may get themselves into situations that adversely affect the rest of their lives and showed other ways of being involved in activities and other things to help prevent finding themselves in some of those sorts of "traps."

Oscar Fakahua works with Native American reservations, tribal councils and their youth groups, and he led the "Teamwork Island Style" discussion. Carpenter said Fakahua attempted to "bridge the gap" between the kids from different schools by getting them to participate in leadership activities.

Judy Rogg and Stephanie Small then spoke with students about "The Choking Game." According to the program, Rogg’s son Erik died in 2010 from playing the dangerous "choking game" that had found a following on YouTube.

Overall, the program was well-received, Carpenter said, and he hopes the students in attendance walked away with the skills and life-lessons needed in order to keep from participating in dangerous behaviors.

"I hope it was educational and taught them principles that will decrease negative forces that affect youth," Carpenter said. "The foundation was developed with guidelines to educate and enlighten youth and aims at breaking cycles created by problematic behaviors, and I hope they left with the tools to deal with them."

For more information on the Leaders 4 Life program, contact Wade Carpenter at wade.carpenter@parkcity.org or 435-615-5505.

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