LEAPing into Action

LEAP’s (Leadership Education Adventure Program) mission is to help youth-at-potential build self-esteem through team building challenge courses and rock climbing, along with other outdoor activities. Facing insurance challenges in the Fall semester of 2015 as new directors, Roxann McArthur and Erika Burton had large visions for LEAP, which are soaring into action this semester. Since last semester LEAP’s volunteer involvement has more than doubled. Current directors Jesus Rodriguez Jr and Roxann McArthur, along with assistant director Erika Burton, are once again setting up service with Orick’s K-12 school for weekly recreation activities. LEAP also works with youth extending from Mckinleyville all the way to Eureka (ages 7-12) during the weekends, providing them scholarships to go rock climbing at Far North Climbing Gym in Arcata. 

LEAP photo

Roxann says it’s amazing to see the progression in their participants from week one when the kids are hesitant to climb to the end of service when the kids and teens begin to connect with one another and become better climbers along the way. Roxann explained that the volunteers get to work with a diverse age group, from ages 5 all the way up to 14 or 15 years old. She says their volunteer work can involve playing and being very active with the younger participants to creating very interpersonal bonds with the teens in the group. Roxann says the volunteers are very active in creating a service that works for everyone, and each time after service they regroup to figure out what improvements could have been made and what went well. 
This semester LEAP is planning to collaborate with several local groups to put on a kayaking day for its participants.Their collaboration includes Environmental Education (another YES House program), Center Activities, Big Lagoon School, and Orick School. They are even brainstorming a way in which the children from Orick and Big Lagoon can penpal each other before finally meeting up for the kayak day! The support this event has received from these groups highlights the power of community in meeting the needs of these youth-at-potential and the importance of “building those relationships”, as Roxann notes.