Twenty-five Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy graduates were recognized during a ceremony Wednesday night at Champagne Jam.
KYLA was formed to encourage the growth, education, training and motivation of future leaders. Graduates are from Warsaw, Triton, Tippecanoe, Wawasee and Whitko high schools and Lakeland Christian Academy.
Each graduate was required to do a White Paper Project. Two groups were selected to present their projects during the ceremony.
Kyle Weideman and Owen Donahoe, both Wawasee High School students, presented their project “Put The Hammer Down – Dodgeball Supporting Habitat For Humanity of Kosciusko County.”
They sold MudLOVE bracelets and came up with the idea for a dodgeball tournament with proceeds going to Habitat.
“We saw how big of a difference Habitat does in our community and set a goal of raising $2,000 for the organization,” Weideman said.
The dodgeball tournament was Dec. 10 at Wawasee High School gym.
“We asked area businesses to donate funds and have teams put together,” Weideman said.
They sold 264 MudLOVE bracelets. There were 11 teams and $1,650 was raised in sponsorships. Another $274 was raised through concessions, for a total of $2,188 raised for Habitat.
Donahoe said they learned to give more time to contact businesses for sponsorships.
KYLA graduates Haley June, Audrey Rich, Neema Patel and Stephani Katris presented their project “Rooted, A Community Garden.”
It is a garden located behind First United Methodist Church.
“We are cultivating it to produce fruits and vegetables this summer to donate through our partnership with Our Father’s House to the soup kitchen weekly,” Rich said.
Katris and June spoke about project expenses and said they met with Anderson Greenhouse, who donated seeds and dirt. They said seeds have already been planted. Ace Hardware donated fertilizer and Superior Landscaping donated 19 tons of dirt. Jan Wilcox, church member, gave the group tips on gardening.
Patel said working on the project, they gained community skills, better connection with the community, an increased awareness of poverty in Kosciusko County and refined leadership skills.
Luke Wright, founder and CEO of MudLOVE, spoke about leadership.
He said leaders are not just born to lead, but need to face challenges and must deny themselves to become leaders and be selfless.
“Good leaders are resilient and accept challenges,” Wright said.
He said good leadership comes from those who have a good heart.
He identified Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. as being good leaders.
“Good leadership is about constantly improving yourself and doing things that force you outside of your comfort zone,” Wright said.
He said servanthood and humility are important qualities of a good leader.
Tony Ciriello, KYLA moderator, said this year it has humbled him to know of the caliber of young people in the community that are looking out for the needs of the community.
At-large KYLA board members for next year will be Brianna Nolin, Triton High School, and John Kuhn, Warsaw Community High School.
(Story By The Times Union)