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Middle School Paths to Leadership Summer Program, 2007-2009

photo of leadership program students at Wissahickon Creek

In the summer of 2007, AAU organized a summer program titled Paths to Leadership for middle school youth from both FACTS and from other local schools. The youth participated in a variety of leadership development activities, learned about environmental and community issues, and developed a plan to implement a recycling program at the FACTS.

In the first years of FACTS, we couldn’t do all of things we aspired to do. The goal of AAU’s 2007 summer youth leadership program was to help FACTS get a recycling program up and running in the following school year. The students researched the problems of out-of-control resource consumption and growing landfills; designed materials that could be used to promote recycling among the school community; met with a recycling company; made a plan that could be implemented given the school’s limited resources; and developed a budget for a recycling program.

The project culminated in a presentation to the school principal and administration that included:

  • why FACTS should have a recycling program;
  • posters, table tents, signs, and a newsletter article that could be used to encourage students and staff to recycle and to inform them of how to recycle;
  • a plan for implementing the recycling program along with a budget;
  • a referral to a recycling company that had expressed willingness to work with us;
  • a request for the administration to commit to implementing the program the following school year.

Every student had a part to present and gained the (scary!) experience of making a public presentation. The students masterfully answered all of the questions asked by the principal and the finance and operations administrators of the school. In 2008 and 2009, students focused on neighborhood exploration and urban gardening as they worked to transform a nearby vacant lot into a green space.  The Paths to Leadership Program ran from 2007 to 2009 and was then expanded into the AAU Summer Program in 2010.


Club AAU After School
Youth Leadership Program, 2007–2010

photo of Club AAU

In 2007, AAU created an after school club at FACTS designed for middle school youth. Students are challenged to learn about community and environmental issues as well as strengthen their leadership skills.

Club AAU continued the work from the 2007 summer program to get the recycling program up and running in FACTS. The Club developed a kit for teachers to use to train FACTS students in how and why to recycle. The kit included:

    • Activities like recycling relay races and a board game recreated from the book “Recycle Every Day” to raise consciousness about recycling;
    • Noisemakers made from recycled materials along with recycling rally chants;
    • Books for teachers to read aloud to students;
    • Instructions to teachers and staff about what can and can’t be recycled in the school’s particular recycling program.

The recycling program was successfully implemented in the 07-08 school year.


AAU/FACTS After School Tutoring Program, 2007–2009

Following in the long tradition of our first summer program, AAU continued to work with high school students to provide leadership training and opportunities for them to mentor and tutor younger students. AAU provided training and support for high school students who volunteer as tutors and mentors in the FACTS aftercare program. FACTS after care is a homework help and enrichment program for 25 FACTS students who attend kindergarten through 6th grade (and that is run by AAU youth alumna, Anh Ha and two other FACTS staffers). AAU Executive Director Ellen Somekawa and Anh worked to design training sessions for high school students that were supportive and team building, helped them understand the needs of the FACTS students, and nurtured their potential for being positive role models and mentors to the FACTS students.