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On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders visited Lakeside Academy to follow up on their visit during the holiday season. Lakeside Academy is a Sequel Youth and Family Services program that focuses on the confrontation and redirection of negative behavior while recognizing desired, positive behavior.
To start the day, the Lakeside Academy Titans performed original spoken word for the Leaders and took the Leaders on a tour of the campus. The tour showed the Leaders the residence halls, the classrooms and the auditorium. While on the tour, the youth explained a typical day living at Lakeside Academy. They discussed their class schedule, living in a residence hall with other teenagers and their goals for when they graduate from Lakeside.
After the tour, it was lunch time. The Lakeside Academy staff prepared grilled burgers and hot dogs, fresh fruit and cookies for the Leaders and youth. During lunch, the Leaders and the youth had a chance to continue their conversations about life at Lakeside and life as a Jeter's Leader.
Once everyone had eaten lunch, the Lakeside Academy staff led the students to a shaded outdoor area to wrap up the day and discuss ways the teens can continue to work together. Some of the ideas included the Titans' visiting the Leaders at Western Michigan University for a college tour, working on a community service project together and attending a Jeter's Leaders Leadership Conference. The Jeter's Leaders and the Lakeside Academy youth are hoping to continue sharing ideas and working together in the Kalamazoo community.
At each Annual Banquet, the Leaders invite a keynote speaker. This year the keynote speaker was Timasha Woods, Jeter's Leaders Class of 2003. Woods remained in contact with the staff and Leaders and was happy to accept the initiation. Ms. Woods' message was to stay involved with Jeter's Leaders and one's community, wherever life may take you. She stressed that giving back made her remember the great times she had as a Jeter's Leader and reminded her to reach back to the program that helped develop her leadership skills. Ms. Woods also encouraged the Leaders to build positive relationships with the people in their lives and to be a positive person. Another message she delivered was to take advantage of all the opportunities available to the Leaders now, because they are once in a lifetime opportunities.
To end, each graduating senior was presented with his or her earned stipend of $3,000, which awards the students for their four years of hard work. Afterward all of the current Leaders and new alumni had a chance to welcome the new freshman Jeter's Leaders inductees into the program. At the end of the evening, there were a lot of hugs but not goodbyes because the new Leaders and graduates would be spending the summer with the program preparing for the Washington, D.C., Service Project.
While at Occidental College, the Leaders learned that President Barack Obama was enrolled at the school during his undergraduate years. The Leaders were impressed by the beautiful campus, as well as the wall dedicated to the President outside the library. At UCLA, the Leaders were able to learn about the school from three UCLA students who also gave them a special tour at the renowned University's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Overall it was a great trip for the Leaders, as they were able to learn about new schools, new careers and also enjoyed the sights and weather of California. After the trip many Leaders were eagerly looking forward to applying to these schools in the near future.
The Jeter's Leaders are a select group of high school students from Greater Kalamazoo and New York City who are committed to leading a healthy lifestyle. The Leaders are ambassadors to Derek and carry out the Turn 2 Foundation's mission of supporting and promoting healthy lifestyles for today's youth. Members are dedicated to staying drug and alcohol free. They participate in community events, attain high academic marks and are devoted to setting examples for younger students. Over the past year, two outstanding Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders have displayed exceptional and consistent leadership qualities. Each has exhibited a positive attitude under adversity, morality when making decisions, and stood up to challenges when needed. Their outstanding leadership qualities have also been recognized by their peers and consequently, they have all been named to leadership positions within the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders Program. The Turn 2 Foundation is proud to recognize the following Jeter's Leaders, J'Nairo and Tracy, and thank them for their hard work and dedication as positive youth leaders.
After arriving on campus, the Leaders met their tour guides and started the tour at the famous Golden Dome, also called the Main Building. The guides took the group through the campus student center where they were able to get a real feel for the energy on the campus. The guides then led the Leaders through one of the major classroom buildings and a technology science lab. After touring the buildings, the Leaders made their way across the quad, past the library, past the amazing football stadium, and by "Touchdown Jesus", a nickname given to the large mural entitled "The Word of Life" by Millard Sheets of the resurrected Jesus. The mural was installed in 1964 on the Hesburgh Library and looms over the stadium mirroring the raised arms of a referee signifying a touchdown. To wrap up the walking tour, the guides showed the Leaders the residence halls where they could potentially be living.
Before heading back to Kalamazoo, the Leaders visited the College Football Hall of Fame in Downtown South Bend. The Hall of Fame was full of exhibits that demonstrated the entire history of college football. The Leaders watched videos about the evolution of collegiate football and participated in football skills tests. They kicked field goals, went head-to-head with tackle dummies, threw touchdown passes to receivers, tested their vertical leaps and performed agility drills.
All of the Leaders enjoyed visiting the University of Notre Dame, which they saw first-hand was an institution steeped in tradition. They were also thankful to have visited the College Football Hall of Fame before it moves to Atlanta in 2013. The entire trip proved to be an amazing experience for the Leaders!
This past October the Jeter's Leaders joined their Proud 2 Be Me-Washington mentees on a trip to Nottawa Fruit Farm in Sturgis, Mich. Upon arrival everyone was welcomed with donuts and apples before gearing up to participate in the many activities the farm offers. After the snack, the group set out for their first activity -- a human hamster wheel! The younger students stepped into the large wheel while the Jeter's Leaders helped them roll across the field. The activity was a great ice breaker and gave them a unique learning opportunity about trust. The next activity, the catapult challenge, let the students load up water balloons onto the slingshot while they aimed to knock down pumpkins that were set up yards away. The Leaders assisted the youth with putting up their water balloons and aiming techniques. The two activities were a great way to start the day!
The last activity was a fun hay ride and tour of the farm where they were able to see all the growing fruits and vegetables. Halfway through the ride, the group made a pit stop to run through the sorghum fields. Afterward they got back on to ride and headed to their final destination, a pumpkin patch. When they got off the wagon, the participants were told that everyone would be allowed to choose their own pumpkin to take home, as long as they followed one rule: They had to be able to carry it themselves! This proved to be a challenge for some kids who chose pumpkins twice their size!
On the bus ride back to Kalamazoo the students talked about the fun activities they participated in and how important it was to work together and as a team. The trip was a great way to kick off a fun-filled year of mentoring!
Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $17 million in grants.