Hundreds of southern Alberta students learn leadership skills at Lethbridge conference

More than 600 students from nine different school jurisdictions came together at the University of Lethbridge on Wednesday for a student leadership conference.

Organizers hope the event helps students broaden what they can learn from a traditional classroom setting.

“These are skills and attributes that carry over with how you interact with everyone,” said Rick Gibson, the executive director of the Southern Alberta Professional Development Consortia. “How you work with your own children, when that time comes, [and] how you work with your family, even now — brothers, sisters, friends.

“These are the kinds of skills that make a big difference in society.”

Students received tips from keynote speakers about handling difficult life situations, while also teaching each other about wellness in breakout sessions.

The event presented a unique opportunity for young learners to pick up life skills.

“Words aren’t powerful unless you make them powerful and we learned about responses and what we need to grow,” said Sarah Peters, a Grade 8 student at R.I. Baker Middle School.

Now in its fifth year, the student leadership conference is creating a trickle-down effect in classrooms across the region.

“We have students every year that come here and watch the presenters and want to become those presenters the next year,” said Picture Butte High School Principal Mark Lowe. “The students that I have going through right now were participants three years ago and are now leading the conference.”

One of the students leading a breakout session this year was Rebecca Avileli  a Grade 11 student at Winston Churchill High School. After participating in the conference in years past, she’s now developed the confidence to lead a discussion in front of her peers.

“If you asked me, like last year, something like this would never have been something I would have thought I could do,” Avileli said. “But practicing, and going to these leadership events like this, helped me develop those skills and that’s why I was able to talk to all these kids today.”

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