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Mesa Police Department’s Youth Leadership Academy underway

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The annual Mesa Police Department’s Youth Leadership Academy for students entering 10th, 11th or 12th grades starts today at the Mesa Public Safety Training Facility. (Courtesy of the Mesa Police Department)

The third annual Mesa Police Department’s Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) gets underway today for students entering 10th, 11th or 12th grades this fall. From July 10-14 youths will learn leadership, team building, job preparation/interview skills, teen financial awareness and more at the Mesa Public Safety Training Facility, 3260 N. 40th St.

The annual Mesa Police Department’s Youth Leadership Academy for students entering 10th, 11th or 12th grades starts today at the Mesa Public Safety Training Facility. (Courtesy of the Mesa Police Department)

“Attendance is capped at 50 students, and while we welcome returning student leaders, we strive to accept new students each summer,” said Mesa Police Officer Joe Trafan. “The Mesa Police Department’s YLA is free to all participants, with breakfast and lunch provided daily. We are no longer accepting applications for this summer’s event, but keep an eye on the Mesa Police Department’s social media next spring for information about the next YLA.”

Participants can expect a variety of teambuilding activities in the morning, designed to enhance leadership skills and bring the group together and allow them to get to know one another, according to Trafan.

“Students are accepted Valleywide and attend many different area high schools,” he said. “After lunch, educators from the city of Mesa, Arizona State University and Benedictine University provide a variety of viewpoints of leadership models. Classroom activities in the afternoon are designed to be interactive between the students and instructors.

“At various times, guest and mystery speakers also are scheduled, including members of area sports teams and local business owners,” Trafan continued. “These interactive speaking engagements afford the students the opportunity to speak with very successful people in the Valley and ask questions regarding how these people lead their organizations and have become so successful. The paths to success many of these people have taken are similar to the trajectory these students are taking, and want to take, in their own lives. So, these can be some of the most enriching components of the leadership academy.”

According to Trafan, students in the 15- to 18-year-old age range are already deeply involved in their schools and communities, whether through academics, sports, after-school activities, community activities, and/or volunteering.

“These students realize how competitive college entrance and the job market can be, so the YLA provides them an opportunity to hone their leadership skills, resumes and interviewing skills,” he said. “We provide collaborative classes for each of these topics, so the students can practice for when the time comes to apply for college and eventually, careers.”

Partnerships help make the program a success and are useful for participating students.

“The Mesa Police Department’s Youth Development Unit, under the Community Engagement Bureau, added the Youth Leadership Academy to its community outreach efforts three summers ago,” Trafan said. “The academy is a collaborative effort, including Mesa Public Schools, the Mesa Police Department, and community members. We wanted to express our appreciation for the exemplary youth we have in this community and provide them a fun, interactive learning experience that will provide them new leadership tools to take back to their schools.”

The Youth Leadership Academy celebrates the successes of hard working student leaders in the community.

“Students are selected for a variety of reasons, including being leaders at school, in activities at school, leaders on their sports teams and in their community activities,” Trafan said. “These students show that they possess a high level of citizenship and a sense of civic pride. We are very proud of these young men and women for their dedication to being leaders in their schools and communities, and if the YLA can help bring out qualities the students did not know they possessed, then we have had a successful academy.”

For more information or an application, contact Trafan at 480-644-2153, email joseph.trafan@mesaaz.gov, or get in touch with your school resource officer.

 – Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at kmixer@mynewsmesa.com.

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