“I want the youth in the community to be able to say, ‘I can do whatever I want,’ and to set goals for themselves. You have to figure out what you’re passionate about and dedicate yourself to it.”
— Matthew Balderston, 17-year-old Moffat County High School senior, about his hopes for a People to People Leadership Summit community project he worked on this summer.
For Matthew Balderston, leadership doesn’t mean grandiose speeches and empty promises.
“You don’t have to spout out a thousand words when you can show leadership with one simple action,” Balderston said.
The 17-year-old Moffat County High School senior had an opportunity to gather with teenagers from across the nation in early August to take part in the People to People Leadership Summit.
The summit, held at Stanford University in California, invited around 200 students after receiving nominations. Balderston’s science teacher, Amber Clark, nominated him for showing character, leadership and scholarship. Balderston is a part of the debate team and national honor society at MCHS.
The seven-day program featured workshops on effective leadership, goal setting, and had professional speakers and visits to local venues, such as the food bank in San Francisco, according to the program's website, peopletopeople.com.
Balderston said he and the other students were able to package 1,000 pounds of spaghetti in a few hours at the food bank.
Another day at the summit was spent in a seminar learning about the 7 habits of highly effective teens. Balderston said the habit he needs to work on most is number seven, sharpening the saw.
And according to Balderston, that means taking time for rest, relaxation and to get refocused. He said he learned it is hard to be successful when you take on too much at once. The energy just isn’t there.
Although Balderston said he met a few other students from Denver, he was the only one from Northwest Colorado.
A large component of the summit required students to work on a community-service action plan throughout the summer and then finalize and present it at the summit.
After speaking with his dad, and motivated by youth in the community, Balderston’s plan is to bring motivational speakers to the middle school to address topics such as drugs and alcohol.
“The goal was to put the plan into realistic terms and make it achievable,” Balderston said. “I don’t want this to be just a one time event. I want to keep it going.”
Balderston plans to speak to booster clubs and other organizations to try to raise funds for speakers.
“I want the youth in the community to be able to say, ‘I can do whatever I want,’ and to set goals for themselves,” Balderston said. “You have to figure out what you’re passionate about and dedicate yourself to it.”
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