Family Leadership Training Institute teaches civic involvement skills | VailDaily.com

Family Leadership Training Institute teaches civic involvement skills

EDWARDS — If you want to change your world, then you should know how.

The Family Leadership Training Institute graduated 13 more family leaders earlier this month, 83 in the local program's five-year history.

FLTI is training for people who want to become leaders in their communities. It's built on the premise that leadership is a skill that can be taught, learned and improved upon.

"The mission is to empower community leaders, so they become respected advocates to youth and families," said Glenda Wentworth, Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent for Colorado State University Extension.

Along with leadership skills, participants learn civics — the tenets of American democracy. They get what amounts to a democracy toolkit, and learn how to engage in the civic process for the benefit of their local school, neighborhood and their own family.

In other words, if you want anything to change, then you need to make it change.

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The program doesn't cost participants any money, but they're required to create a community project, Wentworth said.

The 20-week course opens in January with 10 weeks of personal leadership development, and is followed by 10 weeks of civic leadership. Participants determine how they want improve their community, and then set about doing it.

How leaders lead

For example, Ruby Black, one of this year's participants, is taking a gap year. She needed a place youth could go in the evenings, so she created a Youth House, a safe space for youth to gather with their peers during weekend evenings.

"There are more than enough opportunities for youth to be active and participate in activities during the day, but once the evening rolls around it is hard to find anything to do that is inexpensive, safe and fun," Black said. "Youth House creates a safe space for youth to go to have fun and socialize with their peers every weekend in the evenings."

Among the others are:

• Augustina Del Hoyo worked with the Avon Police Department to create a Neighborhood Watch program, and build a communication bridge with the Avon police.

• Marie Barajas created an Early Learning Exchange that provides children with enriching materials that support and teach life-skills that set young children up for future success.

A few years ago, Meighen Lovelace started Avon's Community Gardens. They give away many of their spots to low income families, and some of the food is donated to the Salvation Army food bank.

Other graduates have pushed legislation through the state Legislature, developed a statewide resource directory and found funding for weekly tutoring sessions for at-risk students.

The program was launched in Connecticut as the Parent Leadership Training Institute. It is now in 20 states and came to Colorado in 2009. Eagle County joined five years ago.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

About Family Leadership Training Institute

The goal is to empower family and community leaders to become leading, recognized and respected advocates for children, youth and families. For information, contact Jennifer Pronga, Family Leadership Training Institute community outreach coordinator, at jennifer@ecpartner.org, or call 970-328-8630.

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