La Jolla high school students participate in first Global Youth Leadership Program


By Ashley Mackin

Eight La Jolla students are among the 10 selected for the inaugural Global Youth Leadership Program (GYLP) of San Diego’s Project Concern International (PCI). These students attend La Jolla High School, The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School and Torrey Pines High School.

The five-month curriculum, which began Jan. 27, will teach participants leadership skills and then put them to the test, when the students organize PCI’s signature fundraiser, the Walk for Water. The event raises funds to get drinkable water to those in impoverished countries.

The curriculum will cover five components: understanding PCI’s mission and programs; event planning and finding sponsorships; communication (including writing press releases for the Walk for Water); branding and social media; resume- writing and interview skills.

The students will use these new-found talents to produce and conduct the Walk in April.

“I think it’s ideal that they can learn how to write a press release and then right away, do it for the Walk (for Water),” said Uli Heine, PCI Director of Development.

For the students, the hoped-for benefits of the GYLP are two-fold; for some, working with PCI to get clean water to developing countries is as important as the skills they will develop in the process. Walk for Water Team Leader and La Jolla High School Senior Chase Abbott said, “Looking at Walk for Water, it’s kind of hard for any other charity to trump it. It means a lot to me, it’s a very easy cause to support and anybody can empathize.”

There is a committee of volunteers to help with the Walk, but the GYLP participants are the chief organizers.

Abbott said he is looking forward to being the team leader as one of the GYLP students, and will handle social media. His previous experience with the Walk planning committee has already spurred changes for Abbott. He said he plans to grow his own vegetables using an aqua-ponic system that uses 90 percent less water than traditional systems. He also said he has cut back on his personal water usage.

Torrey Pines High School sophomore Anagha Srirangam wrote in her program application, “I believe this experience will teach me about leadership in planning events, instill the confidence in me to not only be more vocal about my ideals but to also put them into action. These skills will come into great use as I continue in a position of leadership in my community.”

Heine said participation in the program would ideally do just that. “Overall the goal is to hone local students for global leadership, whether that’s in San Diego or wherever they go after they graduate ... it really sharpens their skills ... and they are emerging as young leaders of tomorrow.”

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