Testimonials, pictures & videos of school partners, students, parents and Effective Leadership Academy programming.

Program Spotlight: Westshore Young Leaders Network - ELA Leadership Conference

Westshore Young Leaders Network (WYLN) collaborates with Effective Leadership Academy annually to offer its students an all-day leadership conference as well as monthly student meetings. 

Westshore Young Leaders student meetings are held at the Bay Village Police Department. Students participate in hands-on, engaging leadership activities facilitated by the Effective Leadership Academy team.

Leadership skills students develop through ELA’s leadership training includes assessment of needs, setting goals, planning and implementation, and projects for student participation from each of their school respective schools. Projects students will work on may include:

  • High School Lock-In
  • SADD Day @ The Q
  • We Are The Majority Rally
  • Community Service Project (across 6 communities)
  • Graduation Ceremony


ORGANIZATION: Westshore Young Leaders Network
PROGRAM: Leadership Conference
LOCATION: Westlake
GRADE(S): Middle & High School; 70+ students
DATES: Annual/September 22, 2017


Effective Leadership Academy (ELA) has partnered with the Westshore Young Leaders Network (WYLN) since 2015, and was honored to facilitate the 2017 student leadership conference for the third year in a row. ELA is able to impact students from six different school districts from Cleveland’s west side thanks to WYLN including Bay Village, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Rocky River, Westlake.


ELA specializes in helping teams and individuals achieve improved personal and organizational skills through action-based team-building strategies, goal achievement, and positive attitude development. The WYLN Conference is a kick off to an 8-month long program focused on drug prevention, addiction-free lifestyles, community service and leadership training through ELA. Student meetings include hands-on, engaging facilitations with ELA facilitators. Students assess needs, set goals, plan and implement projects for student participation from each of their respective schools.


The 2017 WYLN Conference was held on September 22, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than 70 students were represented from the six aforementioned school districts. Effective Leadership Academy led facilitations and interactive activities focused on helping the students learn more about themselves and their values. A lunchtime presentation focused on drug prevention knowledge was given by the McIntyre Center.

Written By: ELA Facilitator Sara Luehring

The Effective Leadership Academy (ELA) was honored to facilitate the Westshore Young Leaders Network (WYLN) Conference for the third year in a row, offering interactive leadership training to over 70 middle school and high school students from six area schools districts.

ELA kicked off the full-day retreat with opportunities for students to step outside their comfort zones and meet new friends by developing a handshake or new nickname for each other, shaking things up with new seats and an epic thumb wars battle.

Students then shifted into mixed-age groups to engage in an activity requiring clear communication, trust, and service to one another. With the added challenges of purely non-verbal communication, as well as selected teammates being blindfolded, students learned to communicate creatively and to consider needs beyond their own. The WYLN program exists to teach students to be advocates and positive influences in the face of pressures such as drugs and alcohol. After this activity, one student shared, ‘I realized I didn’t just need to do my part, but also to help the people who were depending on us because they were blindfolded. At first, I was only thinking about being successful for me.’

Leaders need to look out for those who may have not yet found their voice to communicate their need for help or guidance. The students at this conference were able to gain valuable perspectives, while having fun in the sun on a beautiful day.

After this activity students were split again, this time in concurrent sessions for middle and high school students, with a different focus for each. Middle school students spent time considering the top influencers in their current lives, how those individuals may impact their regular habits, and how to build positive habits to replace any negative habits.

High school students continued to explore effective communication and creative thinking skills, as they are expected to serve as the role models for the younger students in this program and must be aware of their presentation of self. They also spent time exploring how they can create a positive impact in the community by planning a service project throughout the coming school year.

Following an exciting presentation by the McIntyre Center to test students’ knowledge of various drugs, including an interactive obstacle course to model different impairments created by drugs. Students enjoyed a healthy lunch and finished the day with ELA.

After lunch, students were brought back together to conclude the conference with a session on personality styles. As students will work together throughout the year to stand up against drugs, it is essential they are able to collaborate successfully with individuals who may operate very differently from themselves. Including some fun presentations of each personality type’s “Perfect 24 Hours”, students were able to gain more self-awareness, as well as what others may need from them to be successful.

To conclude the day, students gathered to share a lesson learned from the day, or a pledge to say no to a negative influence or action. Groups did this by weaving a WEB of support with yarn, each leaving with a piece of string to remind them of their commitment and knowledge gained from this action packed day.

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