More than 200 delegates from around the South gathered for the 58th annual National Leadership Forum at Harding University June 1-6.
The program, designed for students in grades 9-12, develops leaders and motivates them to an expression of pride in our nation’s traditions and ideals. Each delegate must demonstrate excellent character and leadership ability.
Throughout the week, students have had the opportunity to hear from several experts in their field on topics such as economics, religion, leadership communication and education. Dean Sikes, speaker and founder of You Matter, a non-profit organization that seeks to encourage and uplift teenagers, spoke to delegates June 2 about having a vision for life and shared characteristics of a leader.
“Here’s one of the key lessons in being a true leader: have a thankful heart,” he said. “Leaders are thankful. That’s what draws people toward you. ”
Through labs, lectures, films and discussion, participating students had the opportunity to become more prepared, confident and equipped with the necessary tools to preserve the traditions and ideals upon which America was founded. Dr. Bob Reely, director of the University’s American Studies Institute and National Leadership Forum, hopes that through this program students can realize the influence they can have on the world.
“Students have more potential for leadership than they would probably give themselves credit for,” Reely said. “They can be leaders in their homes by stopping a culture of abuse. They can be leaders in their schools as a drum major or captain of the football team. And eventually, they can be leaders in their community and state and realize they have the potential for a national as well as a world influence.”