By: Isaiah Showell, Follow South Jersey Multimedia Journalist/’What’s Good’ Host
BRIDGETON, N.J. — The Follow Me & Lead leadership academy was held at the Alms Center in Bridgeton for community members of all ages.
The eight-week academy set out to teach community members aged 10-25 certain crucial leadership skills. It teaches young people a number of crucial life skills, including how to cultivate healthy relationships, basic financial literacy, and even more creative traits such as cooking, dancing, and arts & crafts.
Ashlee Todd, the program director of Follow Me & Lead, started this project as simply an idea. She reflected on its growth and potential future expansion from its previous eight-week tenure.
“Now that we see the impact that it’s having on the youth of our community — as you can see, we have all of these youth here from various cities — we’re talking about expanding the program,” Todd said. “So hopefully, it’ll go all the way throughout the school year.”
The program also teaches the young girls participating about positive body image and building self-esteem. One of Todd’s goals was to have the youth doing different things every day and, crucially, fostering a positive, fun atmosphere throughout the Alms Center.
Nicole Kinsey is a teacher in the region, and as part of the Leadership Academy, she runs a course teaching the youth about service. As a full-time educator, she was honored that Todd chose her to teach a class as part of her Leadership Academy.
“I really wish I would’ve gotten more of this education when I was younger,” Kinsey said. “It would’ve helped me prepare as I moved through high school and college and things of that nature. I’m glad we’re able to give it to these kids now and get them start thinking about these things.”
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