Leadership isn’t something you’re born with – it is a series of skills that you learn from your family, mentors and community members. That lesson, along with many others, is what a group of Flint-area leaders hope to teach local youth in a special event.
On Saturday, Feb. 22 the Mark Ingram Foundation along with N Spire U Productions are hosting a Talent and Skill Development Camp and Workshop for children between the ages of 10 through 18 in Genesee County. The organizers are especially looking for children of incarcerated parents to participate in the camp, which is free and open to the public.
The camp, which will be held at Doyle Ryder Elementary School, will features classes taught by local professionals who have made their homes and livelihoods in Flint, Genesee County and Metro Detroit. Classes will focus on life skills, job training and the arts, giving students a well-rounded look at the kinds of things they can achieve personally and professionally, organizers said.
Created by Michigan playwright Kelcy Williams, the founder of N Spire U Productions, the camp was designed to help youth find and develop their innate talents and skills. The mission, Williams says, is to give students “a platform to discover what they are gifted in” as individuals. The camp also will talk about healthcare, finances, exercise and more on living a well-balanced life.
Instructors include Wayne The Barber, who will talk about becoming a barber and an entrepreneur; Brigitte Brown Jackson, who will instruct students on the art of writing a book; Sheila Miller-Graham, who will offer instruction on creative dance; Shon Hart, who will offer public-speaking tips and vocal coaching; Antoine Minor on the method of creating a rap and making a music video; and many others, including Williams, who will talk about the basics of playwrighting and creating characters.
The event also features keynote talks from local speakers, including Dawn Jones, a news anchor at ABC 12 WJRT. Jones’s speech will focus on the topic of “Follow Your Dreams, Never Give Up.” Jones, an Emmy Award winning news anchor, has more than 25 years of experience in radio and television broadcasting. Currently, she anchors the First at Four newscast with Terry Camp. She is also the host of Newsmaker, a weekly public-affairs show on ABC12.
Jones, a mother of two, said she is going to talk to students as a Flint native and as a mom who wants to see every child succeed.
“As a parent I think we should look for signs of gifts and talents within our children and be honest with ourselves about what we see. Every interest is not a talent or gift. As those talents and gifts begin to organically blossom, we (parents) should encourage and invest in their further development,” Jones said. “I want kids to know that we were all born to be brilliant. God has given each of us something that is uniquely ours; it is our purpose, our reason for occupying this space.
“Our challenge, in many instances, is identifying our purpose,” Jones added. “Sometimes it is evident, other times we stumble upon it. … My gift is in the art of communicating. I knew as a young child that I loved to talk, but it would be years later before I understood what that ‘gift of gab’ really meant.”
Jones, who believes that her ability to hold an audience led to her successful broadcast career, hopes that other students can find a mentor and unwrap their gifts through these kinds of events.
“I use my gift daily to inform, inspire, and invite people to put faith over fear, and live a life of purpose and gratitude,” Jones said. “I am Flint. I grew up on the city’s north side. My story of growing up here is like many youth growing up in the city today. … The youth of this city have endless potential and possibilities to live the life of their dreams and make a positive impact in their community and the world. They are connected to a city whose example is one of hope, strength, perseverance and fight. Beyond the headlines people understand Flint is a great city with great people where great things happen.”
Editor’s note: The Talent and Skill Development Camp and Workshop will be held on Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Doyle Ryder Elementary School located at 1040 North Saginaw Street in Flint. The program is free to area youth, but seating is limited.
For additional information contact N Spire U Productions’ Kelcy Williams at 810-908-2843