Eagle Village graduates 10 from leadership program

HERSEY — Putting past hardships behind them, 10 Eagle Village students celebrated an achievement Monday as they

graduated from an interactive leadership program.

Molitor International Training Program is a three-month program with the goal of teaching teens communication skills, job preparation and character building to raise self esteem and grow leadership skills.

The program is in its fifth session at Eagle Village, a center providing critical help for troubled teenagers.

“Our kids come here and they are seen as victims,” said Cathey Prudhomme, president of Eagle Village. “This helps them have confidence to impact their communities for when they go back.”

The program began March 12 and included two after-school learning sessions each week. Facilitated by Chaplan Jeremiah Ketchum and staff member Theresa Mora, the students, ages 11 through 17, participated in a variety of activities from decision making to public speaking. Students also wrote and performed their own television commercials in a business segment of the program.

Graduation keynote speaker, state Sen. Darwin Booher congratulated students on their achievement. He encouraged students to think big and never underestimate their potential through his own personal testimony. Booher, who was a banker for 41 years, said he considered himself a poor public speaker when he decided to run for a position as state senator.

A passion to make a difference in state government drove him to run for office anyway, and he encouraged students to

face their fears as well.

“To be successful in life you have to have enough nerve and the tools, and now you have the tools,” Booher said.

Two students spoke during the graduation ceremony about their experiences in the program, noting the positive impact it had on each of them.

Students also received individual gifts from facilitators, such as a prescription pad and pen for a student who wanted to be a doctor, a bottle of bubble for a student with a bubbly personality and a dream catcher for a student with big dreams.

MITI began in the late 1990s with eight students in the first program session. Since then, thousands of teens across the nation have gone through the program, according to the MITI website.

Students in the MITI program have to meet a standard of stability and be recommended by a school counselor for

acceptance into the program.

The program’s combination of leadership, life skills and unique curriculum creates a positive experience for teens and will give them success as they leave Eagle Village, Mora said.

“It not only changes their sense of self, but it also gives them skills they can use for the future,” Mora said.

Eagle Village will hold the MITI program four times this year, with the next session beginning in a few weeks.