Bill Walker expressed a few reservations as he stood atop the ladder.
Walker, a member of the Lowndes Young Leaders board, was on top of a step ladder with his back turned to six volunteers who waited, arms interlocked, to catch him.
“Is this too high?” Walker asked as the gathered Columbus Rotary Club members looked on. “Do I need to come down a little bit?”
A few moments later, Walker fell safely into the volunteers’ arms.
Lisa James, interim president and director of programs and events for the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, said the trust-fall exercise was a way to demonstrate for Rotarians gathered at the Lion Hills Center Tuesday some of the activities members of the Lowndes Young Leaders program recently experienced.
“It’s important for them to see hands-on what we’re doing with the Lowndes Young Leaders,” she said. “They can hear about it all day long, but when they actually get to try one of the team-building exercises, it leaves a lasting impression.”
Lowndes Young Leaders is jointly operated by the Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Rotary Club and Mississippi University for Women. The program draws about 20 students from schools across the county for leadership training.
“We want them to go out and be well-rounded, well-educated citizens and productive and involved in society,” she said. “The best way to do that is to teach them to be leaders.”
This year, James said, Lowndes Young Leaders’ schedule includes activities such as team-building exercises, learning about industry, job shadowing, as well as a trip to Atlanta later in the fall. They also will travel to Jackson early next year to see the Mississippi Legislature in session.
The program has expanded in recent years. James said applications have risen sharply from about 40 for the 2014-15 year to 90 for 2016-17.
James said organizers have started looking into how to expand the program beyond its current 20-student threshold. She said one option they’ve considered is dividing students into multiple groups of 20.
“A lot of times when we set up our tours and things like that, 20 is the maximum number of people you can take,” she said. “It would just depend. We would have to figure out logistically if we could increase the program that much. We would also need more staff.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.