YES! (Youth Empowerment Summit), is organized by the three Rotary Clubs in Simi Valley and was created to help empower young people to gain a greater understanding of issues, both personal and school related, through interaction and problem solving with peers and adult leaders. YES! hopes to create life-changers in our youth by developing effective leadership, communication, decision making skills and strong values.
YES! provides an atmosphere where high school students experience learning situations that would aid them in developing sound values and positive decision-making skills. They engage in cooperative activities and navigate group dynamics to develop skills that can be carried back to their individual high schools to enrich their academic, personal, and future professional lives. Dynamic speakers share their stories and touch the hearts of each student in a multitude of ways. Not only are the experiences at YES! enjoyable, they are created to have a profound influence on the participants’ view of themselves and those around them.
Students spend the day in sessions that share ideas, techniques, philosophy and inspirational messages on leadership, ethics, problem solving and conflict management, and the importance of communication and listening – all moving towards the goal of helping to further build self-confidence and self-esteem. Sessions include Diversity Ethics Team Building, BLAST (Building Lifelong Acceptance to Social Tolerance), and leadership activities. During one leadership competition, teams are encouraged to work together to move a 2×4 piece of wood across an imaginary lake. It involves not only leadership by various members but the ability to communicate amongst the team members. Understanding that each person had their own abilities creates a priceless lesson – to be kind with more importance placed on people than on material goals. If leadership is inspiring positive action by one’s own actions, then kindness is an essential aspect of leadership.
It is lessons like these and so many more that the participants learn that day. They arrive early in the morning – strangers mostly – and by the end of the day filled with one-of-a-kind experiences – meet lifelong friends and learn a little more about themselves and their potential to make a difference in their world.