Banyan offers two optional leadership “bonus” programs for youth. These are specifically designed to develop and foster leadership skills. 5th and 8th Grade Leadership programs meet once a month in the evening following the completion of after school programs.

The 8th Grade Leadership program is designed to inspire comradery and build confidence. Youth discuss concepts such as integrity, being a role-model, and helping others. The program culminates with an off-site service project that the youth plan. This year youth wanted to research service options at Arc Value Village, Open Arms, Loaves and Fishes, and Senior Community Services. After researching the youth were split between Senior Community Services (SCS) and Open Arms.

  • One youth said she wanted to volunteer for SCS because her Lent resolution was “helping people.”
  • Most youth appreciated Open Arms’ mission of helping those less fortunate find stable food sources.
  • Another youth said she wanted to help with SCS because “it feels good to make people happy.”
  • Youth expressed a desire to provide “food for sick people.”
  • Helping the elderly was a passion, explained one youth, because it reminded her of her grandma.
  • Open Arms is a VERY local non-profit (right around the corner from Banyan!).
  • Youth liked that they would be packaging food as a team.

The vote was 4-3, with Open Arms winning as the volunteer spot for this year. Youth packed meals for critically ill members of the community.

One of the greatest assets that Banyan can help youth develop is compassionate leadership skills. Banyan strives to create an environment, where students are empowered to become exemplary role models, prioritizing others’ emotions, speaking truthfully, showing compassion for all, and actively contributing to community betterment. This is a vital step towards fostering unity and guiding others to be responsible, engaged community members.