Eight community residents recently graduated from Leadership Fayette County 2017, which had 10 enrolled participants.
The class of 2017 began their journey at a dinner to kick off the program at Rachel’s House in March. The theme for this year’s leadership training was “Adding Value to Our Community Readiness Initiatives.”
Leadership Fayette County has been in existence since 1990s. The goal of the program is to provide ongoing basic leadership development skills, capacity building and community knowledge to community and organizational residents, as well as leaders, that are committed to working on a shared vision to strengthen their organizations and communities.
Developing leadership capacities for the community’s residents and community-based organizations through education and training has become one of the most valuable activities in many communities. Leadership development programs help to guarantee an adequate supply of effective leaders and volunteers who are vital to the success of community development activities. They provide the basis for improving the well-being of people in their communities.
This year, the participants had the opportunity to learn about the history of Fayette County; Real Colors: Discover your distinctive personality type; Strength-Finder-Leadership styles; communication, public speaking and presentation skills; and group and team building and challenges. In addition to learning these topics, participants had six community tours to familiarize themselves with the human, social, economic, political and cultural assets in the community.
Participants were instructed to divide into two groups and they were given information on topics that addressed some of the needs of the community. From the list of topics, each group chose a topic and created a project that would have a community impact. This project identifies a local need and each team works to address the community challenge based on their selected topic.
Some previous community projects participants worked on include: cleaning about a mile of the shore of Paint Creek by Eyman Park and the first ever Geocaching project that seeks to provide several benefits to the community, including improving residents’ physical health, social benefits such as self-esteem, a sense of group cohesion and building cooperation educational benefits, such as learning about the history and geographical significance of the location and also attract tourists into the community.
In her welcome address, Pat Brinkman, director of Fayette County OSU Extension, congratulated participants and encouraged them to use their new skills and knowledge to support the community efforts to improve community well-being and quality of life.
Dr. Kenneth Martin, professor and program chair of The Ohio State University Extension, was the keynote guest speaker. He noted that community development is both a process of developing and enhancing the ability to act collectively towards an outcome, which is making a collective decision and taking action to address community issues. He said that effective community development occurs when community members work together with organizations and governments to solve problems and realize new opportunities. This starts with leaders and members being able to identify their assets.
“These assets fall within seven proven community capitals: Natural Capital – The environment and natural beauty, lakes, rivers and streams; Cultural Capital – festivals, stories and traditions, our habits, and heritage; Human Capital – the skills, knowledge and abilities of people; Social Capital – Bond and bridge networks in the community, the sense of belonging; Political Capital – Connections to people in power, access to resources; Built Capital – Buildings and infrastructure such as schools, roads, water and sewer systems; and Financial Capital – Money, charitable giving, grants, access to funding, and wealth,” Martin said.
Asset Mapping is an important activity in asset-based community development which emphasizes identifying community strengths rather than needs. He concluded that typically participants show leadership in community projects programs that reflect in these seven community capitals.
Both groups presented a community need and their project design to address the need.
Group one chose to address the culture and arts. Their project design was titled “Arts on the Streets.” It was an entire day of local artists coming together to create art that will be displayed in the community. This adds character and shows local talent. As visitors come to the area, the group hopes that they will enjoy this local talent and it will keep them coming back.
The second group wanted to revitalize a local tennis court and turn it into Pickleball courts. The local schools have already adopted this new sport and this is a way to get the entire community to use the courts. Pickleball is for all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens. It is a great way to get some low impact exercise and hopefully form a sense of social impact.
Both groups were able to reach out to local businesses to raise funds for their projects. Each group has a plan in place to keep their projects building and improving to create and promote community participation.
Also in attendance were Carol Carey and Leadership Fayette County steering community members, Tina Dahmer and Susan Dunn. Both shared their experiences as past participants and encouraged the graduates to join the committee and stay involved in their projects. Dale Lynch congratulated the participants and encouraged them to become selfless servants in the community.
For more information on future Leadership Fayette classes or to find out how to get involved, contact Godwin Apaliyah at 740-636-2354.