Youth Leadership Academy a key community component of Fairfield’s MLK Observance
Last Friday, Feb. 1, 92 eighth grade students and 15 staff members from eight Bridgeport middle schools visited campus for a Youth Leadership Academy, held annually as part of Fairfield University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance.
The goal of the Youth Leadership Academy is to engage eighth graders to think about leadership and community involvement as modeled by Dr. King. “We conduct a series of skits and role plays to encourage students to become agents of change so they might make a difference in their homes, schools, and communities at large,” says Rony Delva, Project Director of Upward Bound and co-planner of the Youth Leadership Academy along with Todd Pelazza, Director of Public Safety.
The agenda for Friday included a presentation of Fatal Floods, a documentary about a major flood along the Mississippi River that occurred in the 1920s. After the video, Dr. Yohuru Williams, Associate Professor of African American History, facilitated a discussion about how the community and federal government responded to those affected by this natural disaster and compared the response to that experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the recent Superstorm Sandy.
The students also engaged in smaller group discussions about current topics like peer pressure, bullying, and gang violence. “I am always amazed by the clarity and the sense of awareness expressed by these eighth graders during the discussion portion of this event,” commented Delva.
Todd and Rony are grateful to the students, staff, and faculty, especially Dr. Liz Hohl, who helped plan and facilitate the day.
To see the full schedule of MLK Observance events held the week of Jan. 28, please visit www.fairfield.edu/mlk.