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Summer Leadership Program Turns Five West Hartford Teens into Leaders

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Leadership Greater Hartford’s Summer Nexus program offers teens a chance to work on community-focused service projects.


Have your teenagers made summer plans yet? Plans that will help them grow in confidence, independence, and a willingness to give back to their community? A summer experience that will serve them well in college and beyond?

Five West Hartford teens became leaders over the course of one summer. Meg Conner, sophomore, Miss Porter’s School; Cole Peterson, junior, Conard High School; and three students from William H. Hall High School: Katherine Gillis, senior; Chastidy Hudson, junior; and Jason Buckman, junior; all participated in Leadership Greater Hartford’s Summer Nexus program.

“Summer Nexus made me grow as a leader and a person. I was really reluctant to participate at first, but throughout the week I learned how to be more confident when public speaking and when talking to adults. I learned about so many useful things that they don’t teach in school, such as personal finances. This program made me grow in ways I didn’t know I could,” claims Conner. And Gillis adds that the program “made me more willing to try new things and get involved in my community.”

Summer Nexus is a week-long youth leadership program that gives high schoolers a chance to broaden their horizons, build relationships with students from different communities, appreciate different points of view, and still be part of something uniquely their own.

Offered in two different sessions each summer, the experience helps young women and men develop leadership skills that will help them make an impact in their schools and communities. Coming from both urban and suburban schools, Summer Nexus participants build new bonds of trust and friendship through an interactive curriculum and by planning and implementing a community-focused service project.

Conner, Gillis, and Hudson participated in Session I, where their group partnered with The Salvation Army Marshal House Shelter to create “welcome home boxes.” These boxes contained basic household items and toiletries for the shelter to give to their clients when they transitioned from the shelter to their own homes. The students donated 22 bins of goods valuing roughly $2,000.

Buckman and Peterson attended Session II. Their group partnered with Hartford Decide$, the state’s first participatory budgeting initiative. They planned and implemented a car wash; the proceeds were donated to Hartford Decides$ to help them launch their second initiative. In addition to raising $1,500 in donations, the students created marketing materials and secured donations of food and decorations for a Hartford Decide$ donor cultivation event.

In 2016 Summer Nexus brought together 33 students from 16 different towns and 26 different high schools. By using the new leadership skills they learned, the high schoolers discovered the difference they could make by working together.

Buckman shares that Summer Nexus “challenged me and enabled me to step up to improve myself. I can now say that I am a better person and a better member of the community.” Peterson adds, “The lessons I learned in the program will allow me to go on and make a real difference in my community.”

Summer Nexus 2017 is being offered in either July (July 16 to 22) or August (August 6 to 12). Applications are now being accepted. Visit leadershipgh.org or call 860-951-6161, x1100.

Leadership Greater Hartford (LGH) is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that supports and strengthens the local community by training and connecting aspiring and established leaders. For more information about how to be a participant or sponsor, or to inquire about customized training with Leadership Greater Hartford, call 860-951-6161 (x1800), email [email protected] visit leadershipgh.org, or follow LGH on Facebook and Twitter @leadershiphtfd.


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