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Stephencanon Talks about the Value of LEAP and What it Adds to a Normal and Even Advanced Education
Mukama Stephen Canon
Organizations / schools / educators have to have a reason for putting aside the time and finances to add LEAP to a curriculum.
tephen canon is a student from the slums of Uganda who was “rescued” and given an education alongside the diplomats children in the most prestigious schools in Uganda. In the US, he was given the equivalent of an ABC or a scholarship student, living in a wealthy community, receiving the highest education he can receive.
As a graduate, he knows what was missing in today’s education. He knows the current realities. In this transcript of his statements, he speaks to the need and to the future realities if LEAP is added to a student’s education.
“People need to know about LEAP, about what we are doing, how we build it, how it changes us, and how it will grow.”
As well-educated students, we have what we need for good citizenship, but LEAP shows us that leadership is everywhere. Leadership is not only found in the director an organization, leadership has to be everywhere. LEAP teaches us that we have to lead ourselves, make decisions for ourselves, and handle issues that come up in our normal lives. School is not life. Maybe we go to learn physics, math, etc. but that has nothing to do with normal life. It is really important that the kids use their time on vacations, breaks, and in schools to meet and talk more about leadership. They have to know how to live out there, how to teach others. LEAP is really good – it is all about leadership.
What is the danger in not doing it?
he danger in not doing the LEAP to Lead curriculum is that the kids won’t get to know themselves more. Again, we have to look at education for “normal life”. It’s all good when you graduate from school, but when you graduate, it’s all you. You realize that knowing “YOU” is the most important thing you need to survive. We need to know our strong points and our weak points. We need to add leadership and self knowledge to what we learn in school. Knowing yourself is what gives you that extra effort / strength in everything you do. Knowing yourself makes you more collaborative, willing to share ideas. You spend time in school “getting it”, learning the knowledge, but you don’t learn how to use school and get something out of it when you graduate. You don’t ask yourself, “How can I use it?” Instead, you sit there knowing you have gone to school, learned everything, graduated, but you can’t think of what you can do next.
To fill this void, LEAP trains you with leadership skills and then asks you to come up with something constructive and helpful to use to reach your potential. The LEAP class encourages collaboration with your peers and mentors, helps you share your ideas and work with skills and others to succeed at what you want to do. Without it, we feel hopeless when we come back home.
Today, the schools and organizations find someone who has excelled in school and calls him/her a leader. I don’t think that when Repil Jimmy came up with LEAP’s project plan he came up with it from school. He wrote that he had this idea, but was locked, afraid to take the first step. We talked about it, shared as a team, inspired strength, and now he is starting to feel like he can do it – he can make it grow. That is not school. That is real life. It is so important that the kids are given the opportunity to learn this additional knowledge in school – so important for their future.
What is the switch that turns on inside you, the piece that was missing and when found, transforms you?
ids down here are footballers. Whenever we were on pitch training. You would see the discipline was down. The kids were fighting, letting someone bring negative ideas, willing to undermine their players, undermine their ideas. When I look at these kids now, on the pitch and in the classroom, they are willing to speak up, no matter their size. If I say, “Today we will be led by this student”, (one of the smallest in the room or on the pitch), the group is amazed because while he might be the smallest boy, he shows us that even the young can drum and the big can dance. He shows us that someone young can start something, and the old can learn and follow. He shows us that creativity is not only based on one person, it is based on team-work and collaboration. It is so touching to see someone who was drowning and helpless in school, transition when he decides to join this LEAP class. He meets new people who he never thought would be of help for him, or her. He thinks, “Maybe I will just be here for some time.” But, you know what, he meets Stephen canon, and he meets new people, and all of a sudden, he has the opportunity to get a 1/2 scholarship if he starts to take his studies seriously. He starts to realize that life is about the times when you take the opportunities in front of you, and meet new people, and see what tomorrow can be. The class has taught us that together we can create the opportunities to get new chances.
LEAP is about empowerment, and I worry that we have created one more program that gives you a gift and leaves you dependent.
If I was not here tomorrow, if LEAP goes away tomorrow, how has this helped you or has it left you dependent?
rom the first day I started working for LEAP, till the last day I work for LEAP, I now believe in myself. I never had the boldness to take the next steps. Why do people always fear to take the first steps? It is really so important because it is only you yourself who can really bring and idea to someone. Only you can bring your vision of the future and share your knowledge of what you know. I can now do that with what I know and what I have learned, I can now go into any institution and move and lead and teach these kids and these students. I have learned a lot of skills and leadership. I have learned a lot of skills in how to create opportunities; How to talk and get to know others; How to encourage them to grow and share their ideas.
When I met this Director in Uganda, he said, “You guys can end up something that you never thought you could be. You are a real leader. He looked at everything I presented to him, the LEAP to Lead curriculum, the summaries, the struggles, the successes, and he really liked it and wanted to have it. I know that we have to look at these messages again and again. It is the best curriculum I have seen in leadership skills.
LEAP has made me realize that the people that I talk with help me to know my best self. I realized the change in me when Moses said that he saw me differently. He noticed I was thinking differently. He noticed I was ready to take on new challenges, was acting more professionally and making an impact on my community.
LEAP gives us the opportunity to know “we did it as a team”, and at last, know “we did it ourselves”.