Over 2,000 lives changed: Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds student leadership programs celebrate milestone

World-class leadership programs empower Alberta students with the confidence, resilience and motivation to lead in life

CALGARY, Sept. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - The Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds leadership programs today celebrated a major milestone: the graduation of the 2,000th student from the life-changing Teen Leadership Breakthrough program.  The milestone, announced during the Werklund Foundation's first annual fundraising gala, comes just five years after their student leadership programs were first introduced in Alberta.

Deanna Werklund, president of the Werklund Foundation, was instrumental in bringing these student leadership programs to Alberta. Having completed several professional development courses in her career, Deanna was struck by the impact of one executive leadership training program she completed.

"When I finished the leadership program, I immediately thought about the impact this kind of experience could have had on my own life if I had taken it as a teenager," said Deanna. "We worked with several provincial school boards to implement the Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds leadership programs five years ago, and I'm thrilled that we've now been able to hold 50 Teen Leadership Breakthrough courses which have allowed 2,000 Alberta students to experience the program."

"I believe that every student in the province can benefit from this leadership experience," Deanna continued. "We have made great strides and know this program delivers incredible results, but we need support and funds to drive faster progress and bring the programs to more teens."

An independent evaluation of the Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds Teen Leadership Breakthrough program by the University of Calgary displayed powerful results. Student alumni demonstrated significant, long-term and sustainable effects, rarely seen in such programs.

Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds leadership programs help provide preventative solutions to very real issues like teen depression, bullying and peer pressure. Teenage depression has increased 300 percent since the 1970's and today one in 10 teens suffer from it.

"Teens are especially vulnerable to limiting their view of themselves in order to be accepted by other people or to fit in, and are at risk of using unhealthy behaviours to cope," said Cathy Keough, a supervisor with the Calgary Counselling Centre. "I have seen firsthand the life-changing impact of the Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds programs with Calgary students. It empowers them with the tools to take charge of their lives and their choices, and ultimately succeed in life."

"This experience changed my life in so many ways; it helped me to find my voice. It has given me the strength to stand up for myself and take control, and I encourage my friends and family to do the same," said McKenna Simpson, a graduate of the Empowering Minds Teen Leadership Breakthrough program and Grade 11 student at Central Memorial High School. "Today, I have a clear goal: I'm going to be a paramedic in the military. With the support of my school guidance counselor, teachers and my family, I have a clear road map to get there."

About the Werklund Foundation

Founded in 2006, the mission of the Werklund Foundation is to make a difference in the lives of youth by supporting educational opportunities that will assist them in achieving their highest potential.  The goals include: providing students and educators with world-class training; conducting research to continuously improve and develop leadership resources; and ultimately to empower students with the confidence, resilience and motivation necessary to realize their potential.  This is achieved through meaningful and sustainable partnerships with educational institutions, other foundations, and community initiatives.

About Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds™

Driven by the belief that every person is born with the ability to lead, the Werklund Foundation launched Empowering Minds™ leadership programs in several high schools. The ongoing response to the program highlighted the simple truth - that Empowering Minds™ training was penetrating the core of many social issues, giving students the confidence to lead and better preparing them to combat today's most difficult developmental issues, including bullying and peer pressure. To date, the Werklund Foundation's Empowering Minds programs have run 50 Teen Leadership Breakthrough courses, which have provided over 2,000 students with world-class leadership program experiences.

Please visit www.werklundfoundation.org for more information.

SOURCE Werklund Foundation

For further information:

Nicole Grant, North Strategic
416-419-6577, nicole.grant@nicolestrategic.com

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