National Teen Leadership Program
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
When you hear the word “teenager,” compassion, empathy and kindness may not come to mind.
It seems teens typically make headlines for negative reasons. Some folks believe kids between ages 13 and 19 are narcissistic, lack respect for elders or authority, don’t use basic manners or obey the Golden Rule.
Enter National Teen Leadership Program (NTLP), a national program based in Folsom, that works to change those perceptions and trends. The organization’s core values are to help teens change their lives for the better by making an IMPACT on them.
Inclusion: Help kids understand they belong…no matter what.
Make your legacy: Empower kids to dream big.
Proven excellence: Take pride in who they are and what they believe in.
Acceptance of everyone: Appreciate and value everyone’s differences.
Caring for others: Treat all with compassion and empathy, while teaching others to do the same.
Teens are our future: Teach kids that they are the future.
NTLP, now in its 21st year, has helped nearly 10,000 teens from all over the nation help themselves. Laura Segura, executive director and founder, started the nonprofit to bring life-changing lessons to all teens. “When I started the program,” Segura explains, “I found intelligent, altruistic, philanthropic teens whose accomplishments were not making it to the media.”
NTLP holds educational and inspirational summer camps each year, providing a mix of games, role play, speakers and social time, and helping teens realize they are not alone in their angst. “The camp environment takes them away from what is familiar” Segura says, “and gives them the freedom to be themselves and let the person they really are shine through.” The three-day camp, held here locally at Sacramento State, teaches communication and life skills as well as goal setting to teens – all basic tools they will need to succeed in life. The staff, all former graduates of the summer camp, offers a look into the future for teens: they too can make an impact.
A former student testimonial on the group’s Web site says it all: “This NTLP weekend was the best weekend of my life.” Segura has seen a consistent change in teens from their arrival to the camp’s end. “There is a dramatic difference,” she says. “I have rarely seen a young person not touched by this program in some positive way.”
In addition to summer camp, next month NTLP is offering a one-day program called Diversity Day in nearby Rancho Cordova. The eight-hour session, led by Calvin Terrell – an internationally recognized authority on leadership and personal development – helps everyone realize that in some way each of us has a prejudice and assists attendees in overcoming and understanding those feelings. He challenges everyone in the room to become a “warrior for peace” and inspires and motivates all to make a difference in the world. “I feel that this experience is extremely life changing for anyone that attends,” Segura says.
For more information, visit ntlp.org.