Congratulations to the new class of Building Bridges Youth Leaders for the 2016-2017 camp season!

This month, 49 high school youth completed the Summer Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI).  Becoming a Youth Leader requires a high level of commitment. Students must apply and be selected to participate in the SYLI. There is a mandatory three-day retreat in Big Bear and four additional weekly meetings. For some youth, this is a new experience, for others they are returning for a second year. When asked why they volunteer their time, one youth said, “I’m not a big talker, but now I feel more comfortable on knowing how to talk to anyone. “ Another youth said, that the program made her feel “Good—I love it. The people I’ve met—it’s great when you have someone to call a Person-In-Care.”

BuildingBridgesSYLI2 Completing the SYLI prepares youth by building upon and developing the leadership and communication skills they will use with their peers for the upcoming camp season.  They learn about mutual respect, how to take personal responsibility for their own actions and how their behavior influences their own life, their school and the world they live in.  They learn to facilitate discussions, plan and run activities, manage conflict situations and lead large groups. These skills are all transferable to school and work. A new Youth Leader summed up what he learned as “I know I have to speak out. I have to be an advocate, I can’t just be a bystander.”

It is no surprise that so many youth participated in this year’s SYLI.  The students are driven by a desire to solve problems, make change, and help other students have the same life-changing experience they had at Building Bridges Camp. Daniel Solis, Building Bridges Director explains, “With so much conflict and violence in our world, there is a greater need for young people to be supported in facing that conflict and nurtured in finding new ways to transform and heal all this pain. SYLI is part of CCEJ’s actions to help youth become leaders capable of doing this.“

Each year CCEJ holds five Building Bridges camps serving over 500 students from high schools from across Southern California.  If you are interested in learning how to sponsor a student to go to an upcoming Building Bridges camp, please contact Daniel Solis at 562-435-8184 or dsolis@cacej.org. You can also get more information about CCEJ by visiting our About Us page.

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