Leaders UNITE COVID-19 update

Hello everyone! We hope that you are all staying safe during this time. As some of you might already know, all Leaders UNITE volunteer locations are currently closed due to precautions taken by the state for the COVID-19 pandemic. These volunteer locations will be closed indefinitely, and we will post another update on our website when we are allowed to begin our sessions again.

Although we are not doing our regular Leaders UNITE volunteer sessions right now, you can still be involved with Leaders UNITE by participating in our YAS (You are Special) movement. We know that many people are feeling stressed during this time, so taking a moment to send them a YAS card, or writing a YAS confession about them could truly bring a smile to their faces! To learn more about our YAS movement, you can check out the “You are Special” tab on our website.

If you are interested in being involved with Leaders UNITE volunteering remotely, please let us know. We are still planning for the 2020-2021 school year as well, so if you are interested in creating a branch of Leaders UNITE at your school or library for the upcoming school year, do not hesitate to reach out to us! We look forward to seeing everyone back at our volunteer locations in the future!

Leaders UNITE community project: recycling markers for Crayola ColorCycle!

In Leaders UNITE today, the students at the International Preschool of Raleigh began a very special community project about recycling dead markers, called Crayola ColorCycle. I first heard about this project from Ms. Deanna, who showed me a post on Facebook saying that 15 pounds of dead markers can be recycled, but are often not. But we can fix this! One way is by participating in the Crayola ColorCycle program. In this program, schools can collect markers that no longer work and ship these markers to the Crayola company to be recycled and converted into useable energy! The company is collecting all brands of plastic markers (not just Crayola markers), dry erase markers, and highlighters that are dead/no longer working. Once a school collects all of their dead markers in a box, Crayola will send the school a free shipping label to ship these products back to Crayola to be recycled!

In Leaders UNITE, our students made the International Preschool of Raleigh ColorCycle box- which is now located at the front of the school near the recycling bin. Before we made the box, the students read the Facebook post about the ColorCycle program and talked about the importance of recycling markers. Students told me that it is important to recycle for many reasons: it stops the animals in the ocean from getting hurt, it cleans the Earth, it prevents pollution, and it prevents various sicknesses that can arise from waste and pollution. I was happy to see the students thinking about the impact of their actions, and was excited to see that they remembered a lot of information from our previous community project about recycling. After our discussion, the students made the recycling box, which was decorated with information about our project. On the front and back of the box, it explains what can be recycled: dead markers, dry erase markers, and highlighters. On one side of the box, it lists the students’ reasons about why it is important to recycle. On the other side of the box, it tells people to ask Leaders UNITE students if they have any questions about this program. After we made our recycling box, the students tested the markers in their classroom to see if any of them could be added to the box. We found 6 dead markers that we put into our recycling box.

It was great to see the students so interested in recycling, community projects, and making a difference in the world! If you have any dead markers/dry erase markers/highlighters at home and would like to bring them in to add to our recycling box, please do so! The box will be at school for a few months, so there is plenty of time to keep adding to our box.


Valentine’s Day YAS at International Preschool of Raleigh

In Leaders UNITE two weeks ago, the students conducted an activity relating to the Leaders UNITE positivity movement, YAS (You are Special). In this activity, students learned that it is important for a leader to encourage his/her teammates, get to know his/her teammates’ strengths, and to make his/her teammates feel happy.

To emphasize this, we began Leaders UNITE with a discussion, where we introduced the students to the word “compliment.” I first explained what a compliment is. I then gave a few of the students compliments, and asked them how they felt afterwards. They all said that they felt very happy! This was another point we emphasized during our discussion- that saying something nice to someone can make them feel very happy.

After our discussion, we conducted an activity called Valentine’s Day YAS. In this activity, students had to select a partner and think of one thing they like about that person. They then had to exchange compliments with their partner, and make a Valentine’s Day card for their partner using the compliment they wrote down. I was very impressed with the students thinking of authentic compliments. They also did a great job with their Valentine’s Day cards for their partners. I even saw some of the students ask their partner, “Do you like this color?” or, “What kinds of pictures do you like?” when deciding what to put on the card for their partner.

It was so great to see all of the students smiling and happy when they received cards from their friends!


Ballerina Sparkle Rainbow- the Newest Game at International Preschool of Raleigh

Today in Leaders UNITE, the students at International Preschool of Raleigh worked on many different skills: teamwork, thinking outside the box, and taking initiative. The students did an activity called The Newest App, where they had to work together to come up with a unique game that people could play on a phone or computer. We started this activity with the students listing some interesting ideas for a game. They came up with very creative things, such as a game where you have to spin the ballerina, a game with hot lava, a game like soccer, and more. Then, I tasked the students with working together to combine all of their ideas into one game. I saw huge growth in the students’ ability to combine ideas and compromise with their friends! The students (on their own!) came up with a game called Ballerina Sparkle Rainbow, where the person playing the game has to spin a ballerina who is holding a ball, and after spinning the ball, the ballerina would kick the ball. If the ballerina or the ball fall into the nearby hot lava, the player would lose the game. The students even took this a bit further by adding more details to their game. They came up with different racetracks/roads and balls to be included in their game. I was so proud of the students’ creativity and their ability to work together!

Following this, we did a discussion about leadership. I kept it simple, repeating the question that we have discussed throughout the school year, “What is a leader?” This time, I encouraged students to keep their answers brief and general, instead of focusing on specific scenarios. The students did a wonderful job, with each of them contributing unique ideas about what makes a leader. Their ideas were that a leader: is nice, loves others, helps people, shares, cares about others, takes the lead, helps people do stuff, listens to the teacher, is a role model, listens, and stands up for their friends. I think they really captured the general idea of leadership very well!

All Leaders UNITE Activities (Sorted by Type)

Here is a list of all Leaders UNITE activities, hyperlinked and sorted by type of activity. The activities also have their designated age group next to it (ES= elementary school, MS= middle school, HS= high school). Some of the activities fit under more than one of these groups, so I have mentioned them in both. This list will continue to be updated as more activities are added.

Leadership: (general activities about leadership or that involve thinking deeper about leadership)

  1. Leadership at Schools (ES, MS, HS)
  2. What Would a Leader Do? (ES, MS, HS)
  3. Drawing a Leader (ES, MS)
  4. Leadership Utopia (MS, HS)
  5. First Day Questionnaire (MS, HS)
  6. A Leader Is… (Creativity Project) (ES, MS, HS)
  7. Leadership Around School (MS, HS)
  8. Lesson Plan (MS, HS)
  9. Creating a Poem (MS, HS)
  10. Interviewing an Icon (MS, HS)
  11. Leadership in Movies (ES, MS, HS)
  12. Leadership Scenarios (MS, HS)
  13. List and Pictures About Leaders (ES)

Teamwork: (activities where students have to work in teams to accomplish a goal)

  1. Sports Combo (ES, MS, HS)
  2. Hand Signs (MS, HS)
  3. Marketing a New (Old) Product (MS, HS)
  4. The Newest App (ES, MS, HS)
  5. The Newest Videogame (ES, MS, HS)
  6. Find Someone Who (ES, MS, HS)
  7. Leadership at Schools (ES, MS, HS)
  8. It’s Dance Time! (ES, MS)
  9. Christmas Gifts (ES, MS)
  10. The Tallest Tower (ES, MS, HS)
  11. Leadership Around School (MS, HS)
  12. Lesson Plan (MS, HS)
  13. A New End to a Movie (MS, HS)
  14. Pre-Concert Decision Making (MS, HS)
  15. Creating Your Own Language (ES, MS, HS)
  16. Drawing a Forest (ES)
  17. Story Pieces (ES, MS)
  18. Mural (MS, HS)
  19. Composing a Song (MS, HS)
  20. Word Scramble Story (MS, HS)
  21. Commercial (MS, HS)
  22. Halloween Costume (ES)
  23. Superheroes (ES, MS)
  24. Party Planning (MS, HS)

Assigned leader: (team activities where one person has to step up as the assigned leader for the activity)

  1. Hand Signs (MS, HS)
  2. Find Someone Who… Can Understand Hand Signs (MS, HS)
  3. Show and Learn (ES, MS, HS)
  4. Bossy Says “Go Fish” (MS, HS)
  5. Leadership Scenarios (MS, HS)

Public speaking: (activities where students get to practice their public speaking)

  1. Marketing a New (Old) Product (MS, HS)
  2. The Newest App (ES, MS, HS)
  3. The Newest Videogame (ES, MS, HS)
  4. Christmas Gifts (ES, MS)
  5. A Leader Is… (Creativity Project) (ES, MS, HS)
  6. Creating a Poem (MS, HS)
  7. Your Favorite Animal (ES, MS, HS)
  8. Toy Talk (ES)
  9. Commercial (MS, HS)

You are Special: (activities relating to our positivity movement, YAS)

  1. YAS (You are Special) Leadership! (ES, MS, HS)
  2. Time for Thanks(giving) (ES)

Making a Larger Impact; Achieving a Long-Term Goal

I originally created Leaders UNITE with two goals in mind: 1.) showing students that leadership can be fun and 2.) showing students that anyone can be a leader. Zooming in on the second goal, it was very important to me that students understood that they did not have to fit a stereotypical leadership mold or personality in order to become successful leaders. Therefore, this goal took on a role not only encompassing activities and discussions, but also encompassing ways of helping students become more confident in their own abilities and personalities. This year especially, I have had the opportunity to not only share Leaders UNITE with students and teachers, but also with students’ parents. I have recently had the opportunity to talk with quite a few students’ parents and guardians, and was very happy with the feedback I have received about Leaders UNITE on the students’ confidence and demeanors.

Some parents have recently told me that Leaders UNITE has helped their children to come out of their shell- at school and even at home. As a club, we always want students to feel comfortable with their own personalities, showing students that they can become successful leaders even if they aren’t the most talkative or “stereotypical” types of leaders. To hear that some students felt more comfortable being themselves at school and at home because of this club just makes me so happy to hear.

Some parents have also recently told me that Leaders UNITE has helped their children to feel more comfortable interacting with their peers. One thing we often highlight in Leaders UNITE is teamwork, and that it is important to know your teammates on a personal level to know their strengths/interests/how they can best contribute to the team. A huge part of this is making sure that students become comfortable interacting with their peers and being themselves around their peers. Therefore, to see some students go from rarely interacting with their peers to then becoming comfortable enough to openly interact with their peers makes me very happy.

This feedback from parents is particularly meaningful to me because although I can often see changes in students’ confidence over the months, I only get to see them during Leaders UNITE. Of course, I definitely can see improvements in students’ participation, leadership, etc. throughout our sessions, but I don’t often get indication as to how this club affects students in their daily lives. Therefore, it is so nice to hear that there are meaningful differences in students’ confidence levels that are noticeable each and every day. This is the kind of impact we want to have on students- not just making them more comfortable with me or the idea of leadership, but helping to create a positive image of themselves and their abilities that lasts much longer than their time at Leaders UNITE.

I am so proud of the environment we have created, and by the fact that Leaders UNITE was able to make a meaningful impact on these students’ lives. I surely hope that the club can continue to do this for many years to come.

SoccerDance- the Newest Sports Combo!

Yesterday in Leaders UNITE, the students did an activity called Sports Combo, where they worked on teamwork and thinking outside the box. In this activity, the students had to combine their two favorite sports together to create one new sport. For this new sport, they had to come up with the rules, name of the game, number of players on each team, how to win, and more things that are important in a sport. Since they were combining two sports together, it was important for the students to incorporate aspects of both sports into their new creation.

First, we took a vote to determine which two sports were the favorite amongst all of the students. The winners were soccer and dance! Then, the students had to work together to come up with the rules of their new sport. Although at first, it seemed difficult to combine both of these very different sports, the students did an awesome job thinking outside the box to combine dance and soccer. Here’s what they came up with:

The students created a game called SoccerDance. In this game, players kick a soccer ball, which has pictures of dancers and ballerinas on it. However, you can’t just kick the ball like a normal soccer ball: you have to be dancing and/or twirling while kicking the ball! In this game, players can score 1-6 points by kicking the ball into the goal while dancing. The points for a goal increase depending on the type and complexity of the dance move that the person uses while kicking the ball into the goal. This game takes place inside an open classroom, and lasts a total of 40 minutes. Each team has 5 players

I was very impressed to see students bounce ideas off of one another and take initiative to state their ideas. Once one person came up with the first idea, it seemed to spark everyone else to think about combining the two sports. I was also impressed to see students thinking about their own experiences with these sports in order to better combine them together. For example, when thinking about how many minutes the game should be, students initially thought of 30 minutes. However, some of the students who dance mentioned that their dance classes are sometimes 45 minutes, so they decided to make a compromise and make SoccerDance 40 minutes long. It was great to see that students could draw on their own experiences while also thinking outside of the box. This was a pretty complex activity, and I was proud to see the students step up to tackle this. By the end of the activity, all of the students seemed very excited to try out SoccerDance!

Find Someone Who… Can Understand Hand Signs

In this activity, we combine Find Someone Who with Hand Signs to make a new game- assigned leader style! In this activity, students do the Find Someone Who Activity (assigned leader style) where they have to take turns figuring out how many people in the class can do a certain thing listed on the page. However, in this version, the students have to lead the group without talking. For example, if they have to find out how many like jazz music, they have to act it, until people notice they are acting out jazz music. To add another twist to this, they start acting these out one by one, but then begin doing it in twos, so they get practice with leadership as well.

Groups will have 20 minutes to complete this activity. Have fun!

Proving that anyone can be a successful leader