Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Role-play develops leaders

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

        BLUE ASH - For three days this week, 55 teenagers from four northeastern Hamilton County schools will take on the roles of city leaders, journalists, business owners, school officials, health care providers and ministers in the fictional Capa City.

        Teen delegates from Sycamore High School, Moeller Hi gh School, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and Ursuline Academy, will spend Friday through Sunday together at the Joy Outdoor Educational Center in Clarksville, playing their Capa City roles.

        There, the teens will be faced with problems of depression/suicide, substance abuse and cruelty. It will be their job to come up with ideas on how to address the issues through role-playing, brainstorming and cooperation among the groups in Capa City.

        “We tried to get a diverse group of students who exhibited leadership skills or were potential leaders,” said Reba George, communications specialist with the Northeast Community Challenge Coalition, sponsors of the project. “The model we're using is from the Ohio Prevention Education Resource Center at the University of Cincinnati.”

        Coalition student volunteers modified the national model and used it at last December's simulation with junior high school students.

        Changes were again made for this week's conference for high schoolers, which runs Friday through Sunday.

        “We're hoping that students who come get a sense of how community organizations work,” said Christal Ng, a 2002 Sycamore High School graduate and coalition volunteer. “We want them to come up with their own ideas, to take ownership and be creative.”

        The coalition included issues such as cruelty because students are facing more incidents of bullying in schools, said Ryan Novince, 18, a 2002 Sycamore graduate and a coordinator of the conference.

        “A lot of schools are looking at their strategic plan and including bullies,” said Mr. Novince, of Montgomery. “Our hope is that the experience gleaned by the students at the conference will facilitate discussion and development of prevention programs in their own schools.”

        Capa City grew out of a national initiative designed to teach students about the roles that community sectors play in addressing social issues and community problems, Ms. George said. The coalition developed the project through consultation and training with the resource center at UC.

        Officials recommended students from the four high schools in the coalition, which serves Blue Ash, Montgomery, Symmes Township and Sycamore Township.


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