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AG Bell Kicks Off LEAP For High Schoolers

The inaugural session of AG Bell’s new program, Leadership Experience and Adventure Program or LEAP, was held via Zoom on May 14 and 15.

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Written By: Julie Schulte

The inaugural session of AG Bell’s new program, Leadership Experience and Adventure Program or LEAP, was held via Zoom on May 14 and 15. Designed for high schoolers who use Listening and Spoken Language, it offered nearly six hours of engaging and informative interaction with peers and adults who share similar challenges.

LEAP was led by Catharine McNally, AG Bell’s past board chair, as well as six additional facilitators who are graduates of the long-standing Leadership Opportunities for Teens (LOFT) program. With the extra facilitators, participants were able to break out into smaller sessions where they connected with each other on a more personal level and more easily engaged in discussion.

LEAP aims to help high school students become more self-aware through learning about their five top strengths and how to apply those strengths to build the life they want over the next 10 years. LEAP also touches on other important qualities that impact one’s current and future life such as leadership, self-advocacy, technology, work and life skills.

Guest speaker Ceil Weatherman, a Gallup-certified strengths coach, used the students’ “homework” of completing the Clifton Strengths Assessment to highlight each student’s strengths and the value that each brings to social, academic and work environments. The LEAP teens learned that people in their “strength zones” who experience positive energy are more likely to achieve their goals, are more confident, perform better at work, experience less stress and have more positive moments. The teens explored how their personal strengths could help them use technology more effectively, advocate more efficiently, and plan for the future.

At the end of the two-day virtual session, students were asked to share what they learned:

    • “How to advocate for myself.” (Paul, age 17)
    • “Use our strengths to discover our interests.” (Kiana, age 15)
    • “[I’m] inspired to pursue my future career by using my strengths.” (Nathan, age 15).
    • “I learned in order to be successful, I need to use the top five Strengths I have.” (Rachel, age 16).

Students who participate in LEAP also get an enticing glimpse of what it might be like to participate in the five-day LOFT program hosted by AG Bell every summer in Washington, DC. LOFT has a strong emphasis on development of leadership skills. While this year’s LOFT program is already full, AG Bell anticipates that many of the teens who attend one of the LEAP sessions will want to apply for the LOFT program in coming years.

Through the generosity of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and other donors, LEAP is offered free of charge to high school students. Two additional sessions will be held on July 16-17 and September 17-18. In 2022, another six  sessions will be scheduled every other month through the end of the year. AG Bell plans to reach 50 students per session with a goal of 450 total participants.

AG Bell Chief Strategy and Programs Officer Gayla Guignard has high hopes for engaging as many teens as possible through the LEAP program before it concludes in 2022. “There are currently thousands of high school-aged teenagers who are deaf or hard of hearing and use spoken language whom I think would love this program,” she says. “So many teens don’t know even one other peer who is deaf or hard of hearing. This is their chance to meet a whole group of potential new friends and acquaintances. I get excited thinking about what change these wonderful, young people can have on our world just because they have come together, let alone the impact on each individual life.”

LEAP is offered in English and via captioning and is totally online. Register for a session today before the program fills up. Go to AGBellLEAP.com or email LEAP@agbell.org.

For more information, please visit AG Bell here.

AG Bell lanza LEAP para alumnos de secundaria

La sesión inaugural del nuevo programa de AG Bell, LEAP (Programa de experiencias y aventuras de liderazgo), tuvo lugar vía Zoom los días 14 y 15 de mayo. Diseñado para alumnos y alumnas de secundaria que utilizan la Escucha y el Lenguaje Hablado, consistió en casi seis horas de interacción interesante e informativa con compañeros y adultos que comparten retos similares.

LEAP fue dirigido por Catharine McNally, expresidenta de la junta de AG Bell, así como por seis facilitadores adicionales que se graduaron en el programa LOFT (Oportunidades de liderazgo para adolescentes). Gracias a los facilitadores adicionales, se pudo dividir a los participantes en sesiones más reducidas, con el fin de que interconectaran a un nivel más personal e intervinieran con mayor facilidad en el debate.

LEAP tiene como objetivo ayudar a los alumnos de secundaria a que tomen una mayor conciencia personal a través del conocimiento de sus cinco fortalezas principales y la manera de aplicarlas para construir la vida que desean en los próximos 10 años. LEAP también se centra en otras cualidades importantes que influyen en la vida actual y futura de una persona, como el liderazgo, la defensa de los propios intereses, la tecnología, el trabajo y las habilidades vitales.

La ponente invitada Ceil Weatherman, coach de fortalezas certificada por Gallup, utilizó la «tarea» de Evaluación de las fortalezas de Clifton para resaltar las fortalezas de cada alumno y el valor que cada uno aporta a los entornos social, académico y laboral. Los adolescentes de LEAP aprendieron que las personas que experimentan una energía positiva en sus «zonas de fortaleza» tienen una mayor probabilidad de lograr sus objetivos, muestran una mayor confianza personal, tienen un mejor desempeño en el trabajo, experimentan menos estrés y disfrutan de momentos más positivos. Los adolescentes exploraron la manera en que sus fortalezas personales podrían ayudarles a utilizar la tecnología de una manera más eficaz, defender sus intereses con una mayor eficiencia y realizar planes para el futuro.

Al final de la sesión virtual de dos días, se pidió a los alumnos que compartieran lo que habían aprendido:

    • «Cómo defender mis propios intereses». (Paul, 17 años)
    • «Utilizar nuestras fortalezas para descubrir nuestros intereses». (Kiana, 15 años)
    • «Planificaré mi carrera futura utilizando mis fortalezas». (Nathan, 15 años).
    • «He aprendido que, para lograr el éxito, debo utilizar las cinco fortalezas que poseo». (Rachel, 16 años).

A los alumnos que participan en LEAP también se les facilita una atractiva introducción de lo que sería participar en el programa LOFT de cinco días que organiza AG Bell todos los veranos en Washington, DC. LOFT se centra principalmente en el desarrollo de las habilidades de liderazgo. Si bien el programa LOFT de este año ya está completo, AG Bell anticipa que muchos de los adolescentes que asisten a alguna de las sesiones de LEAP querrán inscribirse en el programa LOFT en los próximos años.

Gracias a la generosidad de la Johnson Scholarship Foundation y otros donantes, LEAP se facilita de forma gratuita a los alumnos de secundaria. Se ofrecerán dos sesiones adicionales los días 16-17 de julio y 17-18 de septiembre. En 2022 se programarán otras seis sesiones cada dos meses hasta finales del año. AG Bell se propone que haya 50 alumnos por sesión con el objetivo de conseguir un total de 450 participantes.

Gayla Guignard, directora de Estrategia y Programas de AG Bell, tiene grandes esperanzas de que participen tantos adolescentes como sea posible a través del programa LEAP antes de que concluya en 2022. «Actualmente existen miles de adolescentes de secundaria con sordera o hipoacusia que utilizan el lenguaje hablado y creo que este programa les encantaría», comenta. «Muchos adolescentes ni siquiera conocen a otro compañero que tenga sordera o hipoacusia. Esta es su oportunidad de conocer a un grupo de posibles nuevos amigos y conocidos. Me emociona pensar en el cambio que estos maravillosos jóvenes pueden implementar en nuestro mundo por haberse unido, sin olvidar el impacto en la vida personal».

LEAP se ofrece en inglés, con subtítulos y completamente en línea. Inscríbase en una sesión hoy mismo antes de que se complete el programa. Visite AGBellLEAP.com o envíe un correo electrónico a LEAP@agbell.org.

Para mas infomación, visite a AG Bell International aquí.

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