Jaycees hosts youth conference at WSSU
Students focused on becoming better leaders in their schools and communities learned tools to do just that during the Winston-Salem Jaycees’ annual Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership program.
Ninety-seven rising high school juniors from across the state took part in the weekend-long (June 6-8) confab held on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. Actor Hugh O’Brian established the program in 1958 after a trip to Africa – and a meeting with Noble Laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer – inspired him to “seek out, recognize, and develop outstanding leadership potential among our nation’s youth.”
“This is a leadership development program and HOBY builds its foundation on the themes power, lead and excel,” said Troy Powell, HOBY West Seminar Chair and a Winston-Salem Jaycee.
Throughout the three-days, students, or HOBY Ambassadors, had the opportunity to enhance critical-thinking skills, learn about personal leadership styles and form an appreciation for community service. They attended presentations and panel discussions and took part in team-building activities and community service projects that benefited agencies like the American Red Cross, Samaritan Ministries, Project Linus, Old Salem and Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful.
Seventeen junior staffers – those who have completed the program and at least 100 hours of community service – and 40 adults led the HOBY Ambassadors, who spent two nights in WSSU dormitories.
Junior Staff Co-Director Conner Brady said the camp is based on three phases of leadership – personal, group and social.
“We brought in different speakers to talk about those three phases of leadership,” Brady said. “We want them to learn that the leadership skills that they will find here are not any skills that they didn’t have when they got here. These kids are here because their schools saw something in them that they believe, with the right nurturing, will come back to their school and communities to really thrive.”
This year’s speakers included Claudia Mota of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at High Point University; Gray Gaulding of NASCAR K&N Pro Series; and Amy Lytle, executive director of HandsOn Northwest North Carolina.
Cameron France, a student at High Point’s Southwest Guilford High School, and other Ambassadors gained acceptance into the program by writing an essay, submitting a resume and getting two recommendations from two teachers.
“I have enjoyed this and it has been fun,” France said. “I am getting to meet new people, share different opinions and ideas, and see other people’s view on things. It is exciting.”
France is hoping to take the different opinions and ideas that she hears back to her school.
“I’m hoping that it makes the students more accepting and open-minded,” France said. “We should give every student a chance to lead and be heard in their own way.”
Lucky Prachith and Hannah Dent attended this year’s seminar as junior staff. Prachith, a student at A.L. Brown High School, said that when he came to HOBY last year he did not know what he was walking into but he enjoyed it and decided to return.
“When I came back here this year, I felt like I could take what I learned from my experience and help others take something back to their school,” Prachith said. “My job is to get their minds going about how they can have an impact on their own community when they go home.”
Dent, a student at Lincoln Charter School in Denver, N.C., returned after being a HOBY ambassador two years ago.
“I had a really great time here. I realized that I could be an introvert but also be a leader,” Dent said. “It kick-started my desire to start serving people and I realized that I enjoy it. I think it is great to come back here and see the kids learn all types of lessons about themselves.”