The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) serves Johnson and Linn Counties and is a positive youth development initiative that serves at-risk middle and high school youth. The program operates in both Linn and Johnson counties during the summer months, but primarily in Linn County during the school year. Youth are nominated into the program by school personnel in the summer before their transition to middle school and have the opportunity to participate until they graduate from high school. They are brought into the program because they have leadership potential combined with emerging needs or concerns such as problem behaviors at school, lack of a supportive peer group or struggling with family and home issues. In addition, all youth that participate in Children of Promise’s One-on-One Mentoring Program are invited into YLP when they reach middle school.
YLP has three major components:
Summer Enrichment Program
A five week program that serves youth age 11-18 and focuses on risky behavior prevention, community stewardship, social skill development, and exploring healthy activities options in the community. University of Iowa student athletes are hired to serve as counselors in the program. Research based curriculum, such as All Stars Risky Behavior Prevention Program is integrated into the program design.
Small Group Mentoring
Groups of four to six youth meet at least every other week with an assigned staff member. The groups focus on peer relationships and building social skills, involvement in the community through service and participation in community activities, exploring healthy safe recreational activities during out of school time.
Leadership Resiliency Program
Leadership Resiliency Program (LRP) is a special component of YLP that focuses on freshman and sophomore youth that attend Washington High School. LRP is a SAMSHA Model Program that enhances the youths’ internal strengths and resiliency while preventing involvement in substance abuse and violence. The program includes weekly resiliency groups combined with alternative activities that include adventure/outdoor activities, working with abused and neglected animals, and performing puppet skits for younger children. It focuses on community service, altruism, learning about managed risk, social skills improvement, and conflict resolution.
The program is offered at no cost to the youth and their families. Family fun events such as attendance at University of Iowa sporting events, arts and cultural events, and family potlucks are offered several times during the year. Free transportation is provided to all Youth Leadership activities.