By Crystal Harrell
After a two-year-long COVID break, Angel Light Academy (ALA) held its 22nd annual Youth Leadership Conference on March 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at a new location in Palm
Desert. Twenty-two local schools were represented at the event.
ALA is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to teaching leadership to youth and adults. ALA’s mission is to improve the health, happiness, and well-being of individuals through the practice and demonstration of unconditional love. This is accomplished through service, education, and research. ALA’s Leadership Training Institute trains youth in leadership, problem solving, communication, bullying resistance, and service. Through training and mentoring, ALA creates leaders who provide exceptional service to themselves, others, and the community.
“It helps with issues I have and problem solving. It’s a lot of fun,” said 13-year-old Maile Mills, who has participated in ALA.
ALA worked with approximately 50 young students who were inspired to be a part of their Junior Leader program, working year-round on leadership, problem solving, and service. These youth will be leaders prepared for next year when ALA returns to the full-scale conference.
This year’s focus was leadership traits and good communication. They focused on the character traits and communication skills they need to be successful at home, school, and in the community.
“ALA has noticed that there is a lack of leadership on all levels—from parenting and teaching to government, and kids often feel very hopeless about that because they don’t have the power to change things. We give them some basic leadership tools to help them problem solve and communicate with people so they can make a positive change in their own lives,” explained ALA Event Chair and Vice President for the Board of Directors Erika Baily.
Baily’s role entails coordinating the conference and making sure the curriculum is up-to-date. She also works with the children on issues they want to address at school or home, so that the content in the conference is relevant to them. Of the 50 attendees at the conference, 30 were new and had never attended an ALA event.
Following the conference, youth participants can continue learning and growing by participating in ALA’s Junior Leadership Training Program that meets every six weeks. The Junior Leadership Training Program provides on-going, in-depth leadership training and empowers youth to become examples of leadership, give in service, and make positive changes in their lives. They develop sound problem solving skills for key areas in their life, health, money, relationships, and school.
“The kids were able to meet new people and make connections with friends. There were two fifth grade girls from different schools who met and became fast friends. They want to participate in the Junior Leadership Training Program together so they can continue to learn and hang out,” said Baily.
ALA recognizes the strengths in others and builds on those strengths. The organization provides opportunities to learn new skills that improve confidence and allow individuals of all ages to grow and be the best they can be. Through training, mentoring, and nurturing, ALA creates inspiring leaders who provide exceptional service to others and their communities. The reputation and success of this training organization has resulted in trusted relationships with teachers, school districts and community professionals leading to increased requests for programming. ALA aims to get more high schools involved in the program as a future goal.
ALA was founded in 1995 by Julia and General Richard Wilmot. Julia has been a dedicated community leader and successful businesswoman for over 40 years. Formerly, she was the director of Project Prevention, which assisted 600,000 youth during her five-year tenure. The YWCA in Arizona even honored her in 2003 with a statewide award as Woman of the Year for her dedication to service throughout the state. Richard Wilmot is a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General who served at the Pentagon and has extensive international business and military experience.
To learn more about ALA, visit the website www.angelightacademy.org for more information or contact Erika Baily at 888-311-7388.