FARMINGTON — Almost 50 students from high schools in Maine and New
Hampshire, and Northern Ireland will attend the CommUnity Leadership
Institute, a joint project of University of Maine at Farmington and the
Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence, next week.

It will be held Monday
through Thursday, Aug.10-13, in the North Dining Hall of Olsen Student
Center on the UMF campus. It’s the first step in a
yearlong commitment the young adults are taking to prevent hate and build a
culture of respect within their communities.

Two students from Farmington’s Mt. Blue High School and six students
from high schools in Northern Ireland, which has seen serious religious and political conflict, will be included among the participants. Students were drawn from schools that participate in the Center’s Unity
Project, an intensive, multiyear collaboration between the Center and
school districts to address bullying, bias and harassment. Students
were recommended by educators from their home schools in Farmington,
Rockland, Lewiston/Auburn, Portland and Topsham, as well as three high
schools in Northern Ireland.

“We expect a wonderful group of thoughtful, committed students,” said
F. Celeste Branham, UMF vice president for student and community services.
“The leadership skills they’ll learn through this experience will
challenge them to find their own voices as engaged citizens in their
high schools and local communities as well as be an asset to them as
they apply to college and seek employment.”

Made possible by a generous anonymous donation, the leadership
institute will provide challenging opportunities for students to
develop thoughtful decision-making skills; invigorate involvement with
their communities; and prepare for future leadership roles. The program
will be delivered by Center staff members, who have been working with
many of these students for several years as part of the Unity project,
Branham and UMF student resident assistants.

“These kids know how to change the world and have fun doing it. We
can’t wait to see what they do with the tools and coaching provided at
the conference. It’s like the peacemakers Olympics,” said Tai
Mirach-Jack, who coordinated the conference for the Center.

Student teams will develop projects with the goal of making a positive
change in their communities. Upon successful completion of these
projects in the spring of 2010, the students will network with each other
again at UMF and via video conferencing to share the success of their
civic-minded projects. Leadership Studies certificates will be issued
jointly to the students from UMF and the Center for the Prevention of
Hate Violence.

The Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence works with young people
and adults to prevent and respond to bias, harassment and violence by
providing training, education and advocacy in schools, colleges,
government agencies, nonprofit organizations and communities. The
Center works with 76 schools throughout Maine, the United States, and
internationally, 11 of which will be represented at the summer
conference.


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