10/10/2013 by
Gerald Bell

Last May seven Chicago area youth graduated from the Chicago Initiative on Leadership (CHIL) for Youth. It was the inaugural cohort organized by Chicago based DVULI grads with the support of Grand Rapids alumnus Denise Fase (1998). For nine months, once a month, five males and two females learned about the DVULI Five Core Values and other skills and concepts that led to the writing and presentation of breakthrough plans.

“This first year went better than I expected,” said Leroy Childress (Chicago South 2007). “The kids learned the same principles we learned in DeVos and discovered how to put them to use them in their lives.”   

Leroy said it was amazing to expose the youth to journaling and “to see them respond to capturing their ‘ah ha’ moments.” “Sammy is about 14-years old and he was our youngest participant,” recalls Leroy. “Even he grasped the concepts very well.”

There are even greater things in store for the next CHIL cohort. A college tour has been added as part of the training experience, and some of the first round grads will have the privilege of serving as mentors to the second group.

According to an email announcement from CHIL coordinator Felecia Thompson (Chicago South 2007), Leroy and his wife Eunice Childress (Miami 2007) are taking the lead this year to steer the second round of training. “After watching the Childress team in last year’s program, I am convinced that throughout the upcoming year this couple will raise the bar for the participants and portray a wonderful example of Christian partnership in marriage,” Felecia stated.

All but one of the first round instructors were Chicago DeVos alumni. For their graduation Felicia Sanders (Chicago South 2007), who trains Empowerment at the DVULI Orlando conference, was the keynote speaker. “[We] all partnered to create a good first year experience,” notes Felecia Thompson.

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