Nearly two dozen Cowley County high school students began a year-long program of study in leadership and service as a part of the Kids Impact Cowley County program.

Students from Central (Burden), Udall, and Winfield High Schools met for the first time on Sept. 11 for a community-wide tour.  Arkansas City students will also participate but were unable to attend the tour.

A total of 19 students from Udall, Central Burden and Winfield High school have been selected as school leaders to participate in the KICC program this year.

The KICC program is funded by Legacy Regional Community Foundation and is a county-wide effort to develop leadership in young people through philanthropy and service. Leadership team members Madison Hovey, business administration sophomor, and Michael Bond, business marketing junior, direct the program.

The tour stops included: Udall Volunteer Fire Station and Joseph’s Storehouse (Burden); lunch from Paddlefoot BBQ (Atlanta) at Quail Valley Farms; The Burford Theatre (Arkansas City); and Eagle Nest, Inc. (Winfield).

In preparation for the tour, staff from Legacy helped students examine the county-wide strategic plan, Vision 2020.  Throughout the tour, students reflected upon the needs and assets present in their county.

“The KICC program works like this: All county high schools are invited to select a group of students to participate in the program,” said Lindsay Wilke, assistant director for Leadership Southwestern.

“The high school students take a county-wide tour, examine the county strategic plan and needs assessment, and participate in a joint service project.  Based on their experiences, the students then create a request for grant proposals that they distribute to groups within their high schools.  High school organizations apply for grants from the KICC board, and the students determine a grant winner, host awards ceremonies, and discuss grant reporting measures.”

Wilke said, a great deal of evidence suggests that young people are both capable of and eager to lead in their communities.

“When communities contribute to youth by giving them voice and power, youth give back to their communities,” Wilke said.  “KICC is trying to be a relevant part of this process.  It is a unique and vibrant partnership in the county.”