Friday, February 20, 2015

Middle School Students & Business Leaders

This is a highly adaptable idea as a best practice or model. Any community in Oklahoma--large or small--can do this. Congratulations to the three Woodward GEAR UP leaders Yadon, Parsons and Washmon!

Lunch with Leaders a big hit

Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 10:17 pm | Updated: 10:25 pm, Tue Dec 2, 2014.

Woodward Middle School  7th grader Landry Wilcox is brave.

In front of nearly the entire class of fellow 7th graders, Wilcox was willing to jump up and sing "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" and he really didn't even know the words.

Local 7th graders and business and community leaders

gathered at the First Christian Church on Tuesday

for a special program. (Photo by Rachael Van Horn)
"No, but I'm just going with it," he shouted.

It was just one among many fun exercises 7th graders participated in at the first ever Lunch with Leaders.

The event, organized and put on by three local GearUp leaders, Krista Yadon, Caryl Parsons and Sandy Washmon, was the first among several innovative programs they hope to organize in an effort to link community leaders with students preparing to enter high school.

"Today, we will change lives," said Caryl Parsons to a large group of local Woodward business leaders.

Tuesday 40 local businessmen and women gathered with about 120 students, which paired about three or four students to each adult mentor. Each group sat at their own numbered table for the event.

The interactive program, led by motivational speaker Jerrod Murr of Paradigm Shift, created an anchor activity for each mentor to share and accomplish with his or her group of students.

The activities were a little like Luminosity for the "group brain," if you will.

Murr used a series of fun hand and eye coordination games to not only captivate the students but to get them to ease themselves out of their comfort zone and into a new way of thinking of themselves.

The games also engaged each student's right and left brain, an exercise now linked in studies to better emotional wellness.

"It was so much fun to see the young middle school kids enjoying themselves and as much fun to see the leaders in the community giving back," said mentor Debbie Hickman.

Other activities included word puzzles and some meet and greet games that again, pushed everyone outside of their normal "cocoon" and into a more intentional and purposeful way of being.

Makale Floyd was enthusiastic even before the program began.

"I think this will be a fun way to get to know about people here," Floyd said.

The facts are, it is that a much more. According to a 2007 study in Science Direct, children who are mentored in programs like GearUp are 46 percent less likely to have started using illegal drugs, 79 percent less likely to have used alcohol, 32 percent less likely to hit someone and are less likely to skip school.

The goal of Tuesday's program, Parsons said, is not only academic achievement while in Woodward schools, but to foster the possibility of these students to have numerous choices after they graduate.

According to Yadon, there will be two more Lunch with Leader events, one in February and the last one in May. Murr will also be working with the children in smaller groups throughout the year.

The idea is to link community members with Woodward youth and create a connection to adults that can be helpful for students when they begin setting goals, Yadon said.

"We are looking so forward to the next one," Hickman said. "I had a blast." 

Ret. 2-20-15

For information on GEAR UP: 

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