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Youth leaders challenged by ancient folk tale

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 4:44 p.m. CDT

Helpless babies floating in a river? What a disturbing thought. But, that’s exactly the idea teens were confronted with during a youth-philanthropy retreat held in Angola, Ind.

Teens were told an African tale of babies in a river and the reactions of three community leaders.

The first leader jumped into the river and began to throw babies onto the bank to save their lives. The second went into the river and began to teach babies to swim. The third, criticized by the other two, walked steadfastly on. He said, “I’m going upstream to see how these babies are getting in the water in the first place.”

Attending the retreat were Clarke County Organization of Philanthropic Service (CCOPS) members Joni Burris, Noah Heckman, LeeAnn Helgevold, Jared Jamison, Skylar Johnson, Nick Johnston, Rachael Simpson, navigator Jennifer Scott and parent chaperone Heidi Burris.

“I thought this was an interesting metaphor, something I had never heard before. It really makes you think," Johnson said.

Teens from across the country were challenged to think about the way that their group approaches its philanthropic work. Are they most like the first, second or third leader in the African tale? What approach is most needed in their community? How can they, as young people, bring about the most positive change?

“The ancient folk tale provided a great framework for reflection," Scott said. "It really challenged our group’s members to reflect on what we do, why we do it and how we do it. In the future, we plan to spend more time thinking about how we make positive change in our communities."

“I think that we need to figure out where everybody stands within the group," Simpson said. "We all have separate responsibilities and contributions and those contributions are what we will use to make our decisions. We want to reflect positively on the Dekko Foundation, phish, SCICF, our schools and make a positive impact on our communities.”

CCOPS, is supported and mentored by the Dekko Foundation, phish, South Central Iowa Community Foundation, Clarke High School, and Murray High School. In addition, Lauren Harrison of Murray Schools also serves as a navigator and Chris Robins of Chris’ Photography serves as a guide.

The retreat was planned by a group of young people, called phish, who serve as leaders for youth philanthropy.

The Dekko Foundation provides financial support for youth philanthropic groups across its grantmaking areas in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota. Helping young people use their own ideas to bring about positive change in their communities has been a focus of the foundation for 20 years.

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