Mason City, Iowa – It’s a day of challenges.
Derek Johnson and his friends are spending their Saturday getting to know those they sit next to in class.
“Right now we’re doing a bunch of activities for teamwork and trusting each other,” said Johnson.
But, its not all just fun and games.
These students are part of a youth leadership program at JohnAdams Middle School.
It’s made possible through an organization called Project Footsteps.
And the focus is on a tough topic: bullying in schools.
“Sometimes there are some people once in a while that will bully people and I don’t really like that,” said Johnson.
That’s the type of issues leaders, like Megan Arneson with Project Footsteps, are trying to change.
“And we are trying to connect with the rest of the school so that they can also get involved and helping the groups anti-bullying efforts and gain a sense of youth leaderships as well,” said Megan Arneson.
The program got its start at the University of Minnesota.
Volunteers join the group and travel across the nation teaching kids what leadership is all about.
“By having a real role in sense of ownership of their community and school I think that its really important for them to develop those skills early on so they can carry on the rest of their lives and really take leaderships into their own hands,” said Arneson.
One of the big goals in doing days like this is to teach kids that they can play quite a big role in being a leader at school.
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“Just kind of realizing that this youth group is a part of their school and its something that is active and they’ve been working on for a while and just kind expanding that to the rest of the community in Mason City also and their school,” said Arneson.
And it seems this day of bonding with his peers, is a day Derek won’t soon forget.
“Cause in life you need to be able to trust each other and if you don’t get along well with others than you’re not going to get far,” said Arneson.