Career & Education

Young people need to be taught to become leaders

BY JOSIMAR SCOTT
Career & Education writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 23, 2017

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It is commonly held that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, but it is not an automatic qualification. Getting there requires training and being equipped with specific tools necessary to blossom into the role.

With that in mind, Marcia Woon Choy, a certified facilitator for actionCOACH and a John Maxwell leadership trainer, recently teamed with fellow John Maxwell trainer Tanya Powell and Transformed Life Church to host the YouthMAX Plus programme in Jamaica.

YouthMAX is a youth leadership event based on principles taught by internationally acclaimed leadership expert, speaker, coach and author John Maxwell and Nick Vujicic. The principles — anti-bullying, learning to fail forward to success, developing a positive self-image and developing strong personal character — are imparted through workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching. The YouthMAX Plus version features world-renowned speaker and best-selling author Nick Vujicic who was born without hands and feet. It uses the multimedia delivery format.

The progarmme has been staged around the world, in places like Singapore, Curacao, Bolivia, Honduras, and Las Vegas and Washington in the US. This was its first time in Jamaica.

“I am honoured to be a part of the launch of this initiative in Jamaica,” Woon Choy told the Jamaica Observer. “We often teach our kids to excel academically, but are less often intentional about teaching them to be leaders and to be kind to each other.”

“I believe that if we as a country invest more in programmes like these, it will go a far way in transforming our negative social realities which are underscored by deeply embedded aggression and discontent with self. When we learn to value ourselves, only then can we value others.”

Over 200 children ages 12 to 18 years old and eight to 11 watched Vujicic's video presentations, which addressed topics including maintaining a positive self-image, showing compassion to others, creating a daily routine of successful attitudes and behaviours, and persevering in the midst of adversity. Following each presentation, students then engaged in interactive sessions facilitated by a John Maxwell team member, which allowed them to apply the principles.

“Youths are starving for this information,” Woon Choy told Career & Education in a telephone interview post event.

“They are crying out. The response from the children was amazing… I've never seen them so engaged,” she added.

For her, the biggest take away from the sessions was how to handle failure, which she described as important to success. Participants also walked away with practical tools to become their best selves and to be positive role models within their communities.

“Everybody has strengths, talents, gifts, and we are using them. Once identified, how can we use them to benefit others?” Woon Choy said, repeating a question posed to participants of YouthMAX Plus.

Pastor Joan Fletcher of Transformed Life Church, one of the sponsors of the programme, noted: “At Transformed Life Church we believe in the development of the whole man and also believe that no one is ever too young to effect positive change within their community. We are pleased with the overwhelming support from our participants and sponsors and are happy that we could have played our part in bringing this initiative to Jamaica.”

Woon Choy explained that the positive responses has grown beyond participants in the YouthMAX Plus programme. With the success of the pilot, other organisations are requesting for it to be a replicated elsewhere. She is looking forward to hosting other such events, hoping that Nick Vujicic will one day facilitate a session in person.

The event was staged at the Chinese Benevolent Association and Police Officers' Club as part of Global Youth Initiative Week, observed in April. It attracted sponsorship from corporate brands Restaurants of Jamaica, Stationery Centre, National Bakery, iPrint Limited, and Peak Bottling Company Ltd.

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