ILEAD Youth Leadership Summit held their first ever high school live-streamed event on Sat., Feb. 6, 2021. This free, one-day summit welcomed 75 teens from 20 different high schools located in Marion and Polk Counties.
The first annual ILEAD IMPACT AWARDS were presented to summit guests during the Opening and Closing Sessions. The two award categories recognize a teen leader or group that has had a notable and positive impact in their community, and, a youth leadership development professional, program, or organization that has had a significant impact on the next generation of leaders. Youth and Planning Committee members nominate individuals or groups and then vote on each year's award recipients.
Connect Oregon Students' teen founders Luke Clifton, Esha Puri, and Pranav Ramesh all seniors at South Salem High School received the teen leadership honors. Cipriano Mañon Muñoz, the more than 20-year M.E.Ch.A. Club Adviser at North Salem High School, received the leadership development professional recognition.
"We are honored to receive the award and hope to have set a good example for our community's future leaders." said Pranav Ramesh of Connect Oregon Students. The nonprofit seeks to help provide educational and peer supports to K-12th grade youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Created in the spring of 2020, the organization serves all of Oregon, southwest Washington, and Northern California and invites high schoolers to join them in serving as volunteer tutors.
M.E.Ch.A. clubs are found on many local campuses within Salem Keizer Public Schools, but North Salem High's club is the longest-running and highest in membership, averaging 50 teens each year. According to current student officers, the club's effectiveness and longevity is directly linked to their advisor's dedication to supporting students.
"Mr. Mañon was one of the adults that first showed me I was worth investing in." said M.E.Ch.A. club vice president, Adrian Bernal Canales? "He believes all students should be supported. He paved the path for me to love service and my community."
Upon accepting the award, Mañon was asked to share his thoughts with the ILEAD attendees. "I never expected recognition for my work. To me, it's all about creating memories and showing how beautiful it is to serve. We're not just [developing] future leaders but creating valuable members of the Salem community."
Coordinated by the City of Salem Youth Development Services, ILEAD is produced each year by a youth committee, college student event staff, and a planning committee made up of local youth development, prevention, and workforce readiness professionals. Marion County Health and Human Services and City of Salem were the 2021 sponsors