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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Take a Lesson from Toledo

It's thrilling to see the moment when Lifeplan begins to make a difference for a community. It happens when school administrators team up with other local sponsors and everyone begins to get excited about how Lifeplan can help kids. This has occurred in Hawaii and elsewhere. Now it's happening in Toledo, Ohio.

The Toledo work is the brainchild of Lifeplan Certified Ninja Facilitator, John Henry Livingston. We think he is nothing less than a Lifeplan evangelist! I want to share the inspiring way he has introduced Lifeplan to a broad group of leaders and kids in this community.

John Henry's innovative idea was to host exciting mini-conferences that expose students and administrators from area high schools, along with other community sponsors, to Lifeplan. Attendees get to see Lifeplan in action, actually experience it for themselves. They become acquainted with its process and tools, and get a deep understanding of how it can augment youth development efforts already happening in their community. The result: local leaders get a reason to establish, sustain, and expand their sponsorship. And both adults and students get their first exciting, hands-on Lifeplan experience.

Each high school group that attends has already completed Lifeplan module 1. During the session, Root Learning experts introduce the modules on dreams and goals, and guide table teams that work around the Lifeplan map. Afterwards, each high school signs up kids to go through all 9 modules beginning in September.

This year's event, just concluded, really amped up the excitement. A basketball-themed banner with 6 sponsor logos heralded the conference theme: "Leaders Bring It! Compete with Excellence, Integrity & Character." And what a diverse and energized group it was. Students and administrators from area high schools. Students from the University of Toledo. Sponsor executives that included the President of the local newspaper, Vice President of the University of Toledo, and President of a leading local bank. Last year, this event resulted in 70 high school kids experiencing Lifeplan. This year's conference should result in 150 young people being signed up for all 9 Lifeplan modules.

And John Henry is already planning for next year - a full-day conference that will hopefully result in 300 high school kids experiencing the full Lifeplan program. The day will incorporate leadership training for high school administrators and sponsoring executives. "That will make it a win-win," he says. "And having Root Learning partner with me is just an awesome tool!" He is also planning a Lifeplan event at a community library, and may offer a summer session for kids of executives of a local health care company.

The morale is, "If you build it, they will come." By bringing a sampling of the Lifeplan experience to key stakeholders in a community - school administrators, libraries, newspapers, business leaders, and other sponsors - the word spreads and the excitement builds on itself. More and more interested sponsors come to the hands-on event. Which means that every year, more young people are able to experience Lifeplan.

So here's my advice to Lifeplan Ninjas and others who want to spread the word: take a lesson from Toledo. Get energized, get creative, and dive deep into a community. Show local stakeholders what Lifeplan can do and give them a reason to provide - and continue - support that will make a tremendous difference in the lives of local youth. I can't wait to hear more stories from Toledo.

All the best,


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