youth leadership program


Every summer the UI Athletics Department, in conjunction with several local community groups, participates in the Youth Leadership Program. It is a 7 week program designed to teach area youth leadership skills. Student athletes serve as counselors and role models for the youth leaders.

This is a great experience for student-athletes.

If you have any questions, please contact Andy Winkelmann.


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"Working with the youth has opened my eyes to problems kids are facing today and the idea of helping them learn, mature or give guidance makes me feel more fulfilled as a person. The YLP has provided me an opportunity to become more involved and active in the community" Former UI Student-Athlete, YLP Counselor

The University of Iowa Department of Athletics partners in a coalition of community service agencies and school districts that developed and coordinate the Youth Leadership Program. It currently operates in the community of Cedar Rapids and serves over 100 area youth.

The Youth Leadership Program was designed to respond to community concerns about youth activity and growing community violence. The program, which began in 1993, offers youth in grades 6-12 positive experiences where they can learn leadership and team building skills, enhance their self-esteem and learn to become responsible, contributing citizens.

National studies show that two of the most compelling factors negatively influencing children are large amounts of unstructured and unsupervised time. The Youth Leadership Program was developed to fill this void by providing activities and role models for "potentially high benefit" youth during an ongoing after school program and summer leadership school.

The UI Athletics Department plays a major role in the Youth Leadership Program by providing student-athletes who serve as the youth counselors in the summer leadership program and occasionally participate in the after-school program. Qualified student athletes are selected on the basis of their commitment to youth and community service and their ability to role model the objectives of the program. Some have gone on to work as site coordinators following their college graduation. The Athletic Department continues their involvement by inviting participating youth and their families to attend athletic contests throughout the year-giving families a valuable opportunity to experience a part of campus life while spending quality time together.

The Youth Leadership Program is based on prevention and takes a proactive approach to direct youth towards a lifetime of responsible citizenship and meaningful work. The program targets students entering sixth-grade who will participate through their high school graduation. Using a comprehensive approach in working with youth, family, school, and community, the YLP stresses the positive instead of discouraging the negative, and focuses on helping young people learn what to embrace rather than what to reject. As role models and mentors, the counselors demonstrate the attitudes, skills, behaviors, and values that will enable youth to make positive choices in their own lives.

The seven-week summer leadership program is designed to provide participating youth with 20 hours of structured time each week. Sessions focus on specific topics such as life skills, academics, positive use of free time, decision making skills, coping strategies, leadership and community stewardship. The group also selects a civic project to work on in the community.

"This is not an at-risk program, but a high potential program for students who, when surrounded by the right resources and the right people, can blossom" said Jason Edwards, former Cedar Rapids Program Director.