Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Colorado Seniors Make a Difference in Central America

By: Shawn Pendergrass

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA April 7, 2009 – Ten feet and four inches—that’s the depth of the hole a group of 11 high school seniors from the Denver area dug over their spring break on the remote island of Solarte in Bocas del Toro, Panama, inhabited by the indigenous Guaymi people. The hole that was more than three times as deep as it was wide was excavated so that the school children would have an outhouse to use during the school day. The group of seniors took on several other projects in preparation for the first day of classes on April 6 such as painting the school, cleaning the classrooms, collecting school supplies and picking up trash in the community.

While one group was impacting a small community in Panama, another group of students was devoting efforts to environmental concerns in Costa Rica at a sea turtle conservation site on the Pacific Coast. Some of the efforts included beach patrols, planting trees, clearing nesting areas and constructing a dock.

The trip, however, was not all work and no play—while not building privies or saving sea turtles, these young world-changers enjoyed activities such as rafting, snorkeling and surfing, as well as interacting and making friends with the locals.

Reflecting on the course, high school senior Anthony Vanicek says, “The trip was marked by good people and good times, but more importantly by life lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom, leaving me with a greater sense of global citizenship.” Everyone returned home refreshed and energized, with a new perspective on the world and the beauty it holds.

The students who participated in the project represent fourteen high schools and are all part of Leader’s Challenge, a Colorado based non-profit organization that promotes leadership development among high school students through experiential education programs.

George Brown of Leader’s Challenge organized the trip through collaboration with the Costa Rica Outward Bound School, an organization that encourages character development, leadership, and self-discovery through challenge and adventure. Costa Rica Outward Bound has differentiated itself from other Outward Bound schools by offering a wide array of wilderness adventure courses that enhance cultural and global awareness throughout Central America.

For more information about Leader’s Challenge, contact George Brown at (303) 243-3105. For information about the Costa Rica Outward Bound School, contact Shawn Pendergrass at 1-800-676-2018.


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