High School Students in PA, Orphans in Nairobi, ATSConnections, and a Well?
What do high school students in Pennsylvania, Orphans in Nairobi, a well in Kenya, and ATSConnections have to do with each other?
The answer is collaboration to bring water to an arid region so a school and orphanage can be built.
I was first exposed to KidLead, a leadership development program designed specifically for leaders while they are most moldable, when my son enrolled in a course. It is a truly remarkable program, designed to cultivate 16 leader qualities amongst middle and high school kids.
These 16 qualities reflect a summary of numerous best-practice projects from a review of leadership research and literature, as well as organizations such as the Center for Creative Leadership, Harvard, and other graduate schools and consultants. Half reflect character qualities (values and attitudes), and the other half are competency oriented (people and decision making skills).
The KidLead curriculum utilizes active learning methodology, the same recommended by the American Society of Training & Development (ASTD), used by Fortune 500 corporations and creative educators. You know the style of training: learn by doing.
A significant part of the course involves service projects. The high-school-aged leaders (as these kids are called throughout the program) choose one of two projects to participate in. The first was the development of a sustainable garden on donated land whose produce would be donated to local food banks. The second project was to raise a significant amount of money to build a well in Kenya so that a school / orphanage can be built to take 200 orphans out of the slums of Nairobi.
One of the challenges the teams faced for the projects was the interval of time between meetings. The gap between the 8 weekly meetings became a major hurdle in the development of the plans necessary for projects of this magnitude. “We first talked about using Facebook as a way for us to communicate, but not every leader had a Facebook account,” said Lisa Merideth, the Certified KidLead Trainer who managed the 6-week-long course. She also identified concerns about providing a secure environment for the young leaders.
ATSConnections is a SaaS (software as a service) offering that provides collaboration tools for small-to-medium sized organizing. A full suite of solutions are included, such as a personal dashboard, file sharing, communities, user profiles, Web meetings for up to 200 participants, instant messaging, email and calendar for web and desktop with spam and anti-virus protection and 24x7x365 monitoring.
Merideth continued, “The ATSConnections solution provided by Anderson Technical Services was a perfect match. It not only provided the needed secure environment, but after only a short 30-45 minute training session, our teams were able to develop action plans for the leaders to execute, as well as communicate on the status of the projects.”
Tucker Rodkey, a high school senior and the overall leader of the Kenya Well project team, said, “The Activities piece of ATSConnections is an invaluable way for my team to collaborate. It is simple for me to assign tasks, and for the leaders to comment and/or check them off.” Since his team’s project will extend well beyond the 8-week course, Rodkey sees ATSConnections playing an integral role keeping everyone focused, communicating, and heading in the right direction. “There are 200 orphans whose life will be dramatically changed by this well,” concluded Rodkey.
Both projects did set up public sites on Facebook to raise community awareness. For more information on the projects, please visit:
Seeds of Life: https://www.facebook.com/groups/282922215119162/
Of course Anderson Technical Services will be keeping an eye on these young leaders and reporting on their progress in future.