Students at 15 Catholic schools get leadership, social justice lesson
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
Photo caption: Clayton Imoo, archdiocesan head of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, speaks to young students during a conference at St. Helen's elementary school April 5. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)
Good leaders start out as good followers. That’s the message more than 100 of the local Church’s future leaders heard at a recent conference.
“Jesus didn’t need Twitter to get followers,” said Clayton Imoo, head of youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
“Show mercy like God did. Forgive like God did ... You will be a leader only once you first follow him.”
Imoo was the keynote speaker at an April 5 conference for student leaders at St. Helen’s Elementary. Children in Grades 5-7 from 15 different Catholic schools heard presentations about leadership, social justice, and environmental stewardship.
The day’s events made a big impression on Grade 6 student Sierra Larson.
“I think it’s a great conference. I’ve been learning lots of things about my Catholic faith,” she told The B.C. Catholic.
Sierra is vice president of the student council at St. Edmund’s Elementary. She said Imoo’s talk about leadership will change the way she looks at her role.
“I will start praying more often than I do already and I think it will help me become more like Jesus,” she said. A workshop about the earth’s resources also encouraged her to think more about recycling, composting, and being grateful for what she has.
The day’s theme, “Give Me Your Eyes, So I Can See,” was taken from Matthew 13:16 and printed on T-shirts for the children. Grade 6 student Mohnish Devarapalli said it gave him a lot to reflect on.
“When we look at people, we don’t necessarily always help them, but if we say ‘give me your eyes, Jesus,’ if we see someone getting bullied, we should say ‘stop’ to the bully,” he said.
Putting an end to bullying is important to Mohnish, who puts on Pink Shirt Day activities as part of his role in a student leadership club at St. Helen’s. The team also organizes games and buddy days to build community at the school.
“If kids are getting bullied, I’ll say ‘stop’ and if kids are getting injured, I will help them,” he said.
Imoo encouraged the students to be witnesses by their actions at school and online.
“God gave us the freedom to make choices. Part of being a disciple is making choices that glorify God,” he said.
“With every decision we make, we have a chance to glorify God or take glory away from him.”