MANATEE -- The Manatee County Youth Commission can invite 128 students from 13 counties to its second annual leadership training after receiving a $21,000 grant.
The youth commission annually supplies leadership training for members. This year, however, they invited students to join them for training led by the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America.
CADCA's National Youth Leadership Initiative includes training students to be leaders who can effect change in their communities.
Jessica Spencer, project director for the Manatee County Youth Commission, said this is an event of magnitude in Manatee County.
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"It's a really cool youth training," Spencer said. "It gets them engaged within their coalitions in their communities to make change."
The Youth Commission, which began in 2010, involves high school students from Manatee County who connect youth to local government officials.
The commission is a sub-group of the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coali
The Department of Children and Families provided the grant, which will allow the youth commission to give five free passes to coalitions from the Sun Coast region to give to students.
The training at the DaySpring Conference Center in Parrish has elements of a traditional campout. Students will stay overnight on camp grounds.
The sessions are designed to be fun and interactive to engage students. They will work in small groups with CADCA instructors and the invited coalitions.
Spencer said members of the youth commission say they are ready to train.
"They are really excited to gain skills to help them," she said.
Students from several Manatee County high schools will attend, including Manatee, Bayshore, and Saint Stephen's Episcopal School. The event is open to all high school students, although some counties are bringing middle school students.
Rita Chamberlain, coordinator for the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, said the coalition wants to give passionate youth the skills they need to communicate with government officials and community leaders to work with them on causes that concern the youth.
"There are strategies and ways to approach speaking truth to power that we can give them that's going to give them a good foundation," said Chamberlain. "These are the movers and shakers. These are the kids that want to make a difference."
JANEY TATE, City of Bradenton and Palmetto Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.