Forty middle school students from Hinesburg Community School and Charlotte Central School attended the Empower Youth Leadership Conference April 4 in South Burlington at the Holiday Inn. Along with others from schools around Vermont, the students participated in workshops throughout the day designed to build personal leadership skills.

The conference began with the middle schoolers working with student facilitators from Champlain Valley High School and Hinesburg Community School. Students identified and celebrated those who have been leaders in their lives and discussed their hopes and dreams for the world. They then shared their ideas via Skype with students in Uganda.

As the day progressed, students engaged in activities aimed to enhance communication skills.  Highlights included creating vision boards that identified future goals and learning about the power of nonverbal communication. In addition, a workshop about money taught participants about credit, debt, investing and compound interest.

The conference ended with students learning how to practice and express gratitude as a way to bring abundance and positivity into their lives.

The event, co-sponsored by the Children’s Legacy Partnership through a grant from the NoVo and Education First Foundations, was organized by Hinesburg Community School teacher Mary Muroski and Charlotte Central School counselor Kathy Batty.

“Many of the students commented that they enjoyed getting to meet students from other schools and making new friends,” Batty said.

This year represented Muroski and Batty’s fourth conference, with more than 200 Vermont students participating overall.

“We started the conference because we wanted to create an experience where students could interact with others and build their confidence, all while having fun,” said Muroski. “It was so heartening to see the insight that these future leaders have to make the world a better place for all!”

Local sponsors for the event included Larkin Realty, Holiday Inn Burlington, New England Federal Credit Union, and Lantman’s Market in Hinesburg.

For more information on upcoming conferences, or the Children’s Legacy Partnership foundation, contact

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