The Able Trust Youth Leadership Forum

YLF 2017

Some believe that leaders are born; that they are naturally gifted with the traits that distinguish them from others.

However, there are others that believe that leaders are made.  That given the right training anyone can assume a leadership role and be successful.

On July 19, nearly 50 students from across the state of Florida participated in five days of leadership training at the 2017 Able Trust Youth Leadership Forum (YLF).  Thanks to major funding from The Able Trust (along with generous support from corporate and private sponsors), high school students are able to experience life on a college campus with all fees for travel, lodging, and activities paid for by The Able Trust.  For many of the participants, it was their first time being away from home.  Simply taking the first step to board a bus or fly on a plane showed great courage, one of many leadership traits.

"When I was sitting in the car with my mom, hugging her and saying goodbye, in my mind I was asking myself, 'What are you doing?  I must be crazy?  Am I really doing this right now?'" Catherine shared during the closing ceremonies.

       YLF STUDENTS TOURING FSU  YLF STUDENTS TOURING FSU  YLF 2017 at the Florida Capitol
YLF 2017 participants toured Florida State University (left) as well as Tallahassee Community College, giving them information about career programs and admission criteria.  Afterward, participants visited The Florida Capitol and debated a bill in the House Chambers (right).

Over the course of the forum, students took campus tours of Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College, in addition to learning about the steps necessary to apply and get accommodations should they be necessary. 

"Before I came to this forum, I really didn't know if I could go to college," Manny said.  "But now, I believe I can make it."

Students also participated in a mock legislative session in the House Chambers of the Florida Capitol where they debated and voted on a bill regarding homework in public schools.  Dinner and business etiquette training, disability history, sensitivity, and resource seminars rounded out the week's events.  Students filled out a personal leadership plan (PLP) to take home with them as a reminder of the things they learned and the goals they set for the coming year. 

"When I first got on the bus, all I could remember was how nice and helpful everyone was," Megan said.  "During my time here, I decided that I want to be the same type of leader.  I want to be the one that has that same impact on the people that I meet in my own life."

  YLF 2017 industry site tour of the Ghazvini Center  YLF 2017 industry site tour of the Ghazvini CenterYLF 2017 industry site tour of the TCC STEM Center  YLF 2017 industry site tour of the TCC STEM Center
YLF 2017 participants visited several STEM industry sites, including the Ghazvini Medical Center (left) where they learned about jobs in the medical field, and the STEM Center on the campus of Tallahassee Community College (right) where they learned about careers in engineering and robotics.