Youth Leader Program
The Northwest Arctic School District's Youth Leader Program began in 2008 with a 3-year federal grant project aimed at providing additional mental health resources to our students. This three-year grant project was the foundation for the creation and establishment of the present-day Youth Leaders Program. At the completion of the 3-year grant cycle when federal funding ended, regional zinc mine operator Teck Red Dog Operations donated a supplemental $150,000 in 2010. In 2011, Teck awarded the Youth Leader Program $1.25 million for 5 years at $250,000 annually. Teck continues to be the sole funder of this effective student empowerment program. In addition, Red Dog employees have participated in training and events with the Youth Leaders.
Youth Leaders is built of middle and high school students, who are selected by their peers as influencers in their schools and communities. Students receive training throughout the year in individual and community cultural values, physical and emotional wellness, and health on topics of suicide, sexual assault, dating, violence, and bullying prevention. The training also includes the promotion of healthy choices, role modeling, positivity, school safety, and village wellness.
Armed with this training, Youth Leaders are encouraged to disseminate information to their friends and family in their villages. Youth Leaders promote, sponsor, and engage in healthy and positive activities throughout the region and state. They are invaluable resources in schools as they serve as role models to younger students and assist staff in the district’s mission and vision. They have become true change agents in schools and communities for the betterment of their villages.
As the newly hired Coordinator for the 2022-2023 school year, I encourage youth to find their voice and send their message loud and clear about the changes they want to see in their community and schools. This program opens doors of opportunity for students. Including leading through relationships. Through these relationships, we find positive and healthy living in our & others’ lives. Leadership has many aspects we can highlight, relationships are just one small part that this program helps develop in our youth.
Marvin A. Sheldon