Teen leaders from six Quad-City organizations met Sunday to discuss how they can continue their leadership and make their voices heard.

Jenna Sethi and Terri Sullivan from the Search Institute based in Minneapolis facilitated an afternoon retreat at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, Bettendorf, where 24 Quad-City area youth leaders and some adults met to share ideas and strategies.

The group previously met in January in Youth Voices focus groups, said Diane Koster, director of communications for the foundation. Each young leader left with a specific action plan to implement within his or her organization, she said.

“Participants are generating ideas for community-wide action and commitment,” she said. “They are learning from each other how to make a difference in the community,”

The foundation granted each organization $1,000 to implement the ideas the young people generated.

Groups involved were:

  • The ACES (Academic Completion for Empowerment and Success) program offered through the Scott County Family Y whose mission is to improve long-term employment opportunities for youth who have a brush with the law in Davenport.
  • AMP (Achieving Maximum Potential), a youth-driven, statewide organization that offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, speaking opportunities, and educational/vocational assistance. Participants are age 13 and older who have been involved in foster care, adoption or other out-of-home placements
  • Love, Girls Magazine
  • 4-H of Illinois
  • Project Renewal, which provides a positive presence for the children and families in low-income neighborhoods of Davenport. Its program activities for children teach non-violent conflict resolution skills, interpersonal relationships, constructive use of time, appropriate social behaviors and emphasize the importance of a complete education.
  • Teens for Tomorrow, a youth philanthropy group for high school students in Rock Island and Scott counties.

All six youth leadership organizations will have a plan to take back to their respective organizations, said Kelly Thompson, director of programs at the foundation. Sunday’s workshop was based on the information the young people provided early to the Search Institute, she said.

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Sethi and Sullivan led the entire group in steps they could take to answer the question “What can we do at a community level to create a culture of youth voice?”

Students talked together in small groups, then shared their strategies.

Among the students were Carlos Maxfield and DeMarquez Hanes, both of Davenport. The seniors at Mid-City High School worked together in a session Maxfield called “Productive. We came up with a lot of ideas.”

“This was inspiring,” Hanes said. “We need to continue to make more and more opportunities for change.”

Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Broadcast Film Critics Association member. College instructor for criminal justice, English and math. Serves on Safer Foundation and The Salvation Army advisory boards. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church