A year-long leadership development program for local high school students will kick off its 14th year at Saginaw Valley State University with front-row seats to a theatrical performance by one of Detroit’s most highly-regarded cultural treasures.
The SVSU-based Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute will welcome its new class of participants — 90 students from 32 high schools across mid-Michigan are signed up this year — during a day of fun and informative events scheduled at SVSU Friday, Oct. 5.
One of the event's highlights includes a performance by members of Mosaic Youth Theatre, an internationally-touring troupe of actors and singers from Detroit. The group will perform the play, “Speak Up For Yourself,” which addresses stereotypes and biases while promoting diversity.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute ceremony kicks off at 8:15 a.m. and closes at 1:15 p.m. in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. A lineup of SVSU students, faculty, staff and administrators will address the high school participants throughout the day. The Mosaic Youth Theatre performance is planned from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.
Mamie T. Thorns, SVSU’s special assistant to the president for Diversity Programs, has served as the institute’s coordinator since its founding. The new class of participants will carry on the tradition of leadership and excellence demonstrated by the program's 935 graduates, she said.
“Our mission is to provide an opportunity for high school student leaders — from diverse racial, cultural and socioeconomically diverse communities — to gain valuable leadership training and acquire new skills that will help them lead in any community improvement projects,” she said.
Begun in 2005 as the Saginaw County Youth Leadership Institute, the initiative expanded in 2011 to include Bay and Midland counties.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute, overseen by SVSU’s Office of Diversity Programs, provides leadership development experience for youths focused on issues relating to diversity and leadership. Participants are paired with 12 SVSU student mentors as well as 16 corporate and community volunteers to participate in training sessions led by professional facilitators and presenters.
Each year, the institute identifies a community partner or cause to support. In past years, participants have provided relief for residents affected by the Flint water crisis, and worked with nonprofits such as United Way, Girl Scouts of the USA, First Ward Community Center in Saginaw, Hope House Maternity Shelter in Midland, and Mid-Michigan Children's Museum in Saginaw. At times, participants reached far outside the region to help individuals in need. In 2011, program participants supported the Ghana-based Royal Seed Orphanage.
For more information about The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute, call SVSU's Office of Diversity Programs at (989) 964-4068.