Updated: 01/10/2014 5:51 PM
Created: 01/10/2014 5:38 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- For middle school students, navigating the social landscape can be difficult as they try to figure out who they are and how to fit in.
But that doesn’t always lead them to make the right choices.
That’s why one local school district called in the experts to help give kids the courage to stand up and speak out.
On Friday morning, more than a hundred eighth graders from Albert Lea Public Schools gathered at Crossroads Church for a different kind of lesson.
"We want to let students know that it's not going to be a five hour lecture on courage…we do that through games, through storytelling” said Megan Lee-Erickson, a program manager with Youth Frontiers, a non-profit group that looks to partner with schools to build positive communities. “It gives them a chance to already start interacting with students they're maybe not used to."
Leaders with Youth Frontiers led students in a series of activities about courage, all of which were designed to help them confront the issues they face every day.
"Whether it's the courage to stand up for yourself, to believe in yourself and try harder in school, the courage to stop a rumor, the courage to try something new, make new friends, those kinds of everyday courage are what we’re talking about today," Lee-Erickson said.
By mixing students up in small groups, organizers hoped to open kids up to new people and experiences.
Program leaders said they want to empower students so they can take the lessons learned Friday and continue them in the future.
"Our goal is to have every single student make a commitment to one act of courage,” Lee-Erickson said. “One thing that they can do that will make a difference in their lives, make a difference in the other lives of students around them, and make their community a better place."
This is the tenth year that Youth Frontiers has worked with students in Albert Lea.
Organizers said in 2014 they will end up doing more than 700 retreats with kids all across the country.