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Learning about leadership

Leaders will always be needed. The difficult situation will be finding the ones with the right skills for what we need.

For more than two decades, the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce has organized a couple of programs with that goal in mind.

Leadership Ohio Valley and Youth Leadership Weirton provide opportunities for area residents to learn more about themselves, others and their communities. The hope is they will become more active in some aspect of their public lives (schools for the youth, their towns for the adults), while also using the skills they acquire as they move forward.

Now, for full disclosure, I currently serve as both the chair of the chamber’s Education Committee which oversees these programs, and of the chamber’s board of directors. I went through Leadership Ohio Valley (when it was known as Leadership Weirton) back in 2007-2008.

Both programs, as with many events this year, have faced delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth Leadership Weirton celebrated its graduation last weekend, an event which was supposed to have happened in March.

Leadership Ohio Valley had been set to complete its year in June; however, the pandemic resulted in the postponement of three of the class’ sessions. The group also has to complete its community project.

Next year’s Youth Leadership class has been selected, and will begin its year in September. Thanks to the school guidance counselors, principals and others who assisted in getting the information to the students despite not having in-building classes the last few months of the school year.

Youth Leadership kicks off learning the importance of teamwork by going through a ropes and obstacle course. No matter where you go in life, you most likely are going to be working with others. That means teamwork is one of the necessary skills for everyone. Other sessions, held one day a month and taking the students out of school, focus on areas such as learning more about their personalities and how it affects our interactions with others, ethics and learning how to set, and work toward, goals.

It’s all capped off by SIMSOC, about which I won’t go into detail because it could influence how the students approach the activity.

While the current Leadership Ohio Valley class is working on their final graduation requirements, recruitment has begun for next year’s class, which should begin sometime in November.

Leadership Ohio Valley is open to members of our community and encourages them to become more active in society. They learn about local history and culture, business and economic development, government, education and more, as well as find ways to give back.

Businesses, schools or organizations sponsor their employees to take part, and, as with many of the chamber’s programs, this provides an opportunity to network with others, raising the visibility of the business while learning more about others.

Overall, these programs serve an important purpose. As time passes, each community will need new people willing to step forward into leadership roles. These individuals, while respecting our history and those who have come before, will, hopefully, find new ways to guide us into the future ensuring we don’t become stagnant and fall behind.

By working together, sharing ideas, setting goals and keeping an open mind, we can open up doors never thought of for our region.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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