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Church program forging young leaders

ROME – Youth at a local church are learning to be leaders while serving their community.

Wednesday, December 27, 2000

ROME – Youth at a local church are learning to be leaders while serving their community.

Children at Rome Church of Christ are participating in a variation of a national program called Lads to Leaders and Leaderettes.

The program, which was invented by Jack Zorn, trains youngsters in areas that will make them good leaders in the future, said Peggy Rowe, mentor for the program.

Where the national program focuses on young teenagers, the church’s program focuses on kids ages 6-12.

"Just like the national program, we start by trying to build their self esteem," Ms. Rowe said. "The kids have certain things they have to be responsible for their Bibles, workbooks and sashes. We don’t tell them to bring those things. But when they check in, if they’ve brought them, they get points. That’s how they learn responsibility."

The program resembles scouting in that it recognizes levels of achievement, and gives awards for those achievements.

Children in the Lads to Leaders and Leaderettes program at Rome Church of Christ can earn points that count toward prizes, pins for participating in community service projects and medals for memorizing Bible verses.

"I got this pin for doing a book report on the Bible book of Job," said Cody Lusk, 8, of Huntington, W.Va.

Additionally, each child is expected to head a community service project in order to show leadership.

Some of the recent projects the children have participated in include organizing a teacher’s supply closet for a local school, cleaning trash out of a cemetery, collecting spare change to raise money for a food pantry, and writing cards to sick people, Ms. Rowe said.

For Christmas, they adopted a child to buy presents for, and made stockings for college students who were unable to go home.

Ms. Rowe said the church hopes to extend the program to include teenagers, as the children who are participating get older.