Decatur students taking away lifelong leadership skills with help of mentoring program

DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Leaders with Sherrod’s Independent Mentoring Program, better known as “SIMP,” are lifting each other up and changing lives. In January, some of the young girls involved got to put their leadership skills to the test while at school.

A morning of smiles, laughs and leadership filled the gym at American Dreamer STEM Academy in Decatur.

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“Today was all about leadership. We’ve been working with our girls since our ‘Educating Girls Youth Summit,” Jarmese Sherrod, the SIMP CEO and president, explained.

One of those girls leading the day’s program is fifth-grader Markiyah Wilder.

“It started out by snacks and drinks and phone numbers,” she said with a smile.

Then, it became a scavenger hunt and girl empowerment day at school.

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“Today was an opportunity for them to use their skills to be graded with a rubric on organization, creativity, and teamwork,” Sherrod explained.

Sherrod created SIMP to teach children exactly those things.

“The number one thing is we always tell kids they’re the future. So, if they’re the future, what are we doing right now?” she said.

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The answer? Learning important life skills like leading the scavenger hunt.

“It’s going to help because I figured out just like teamwork is really good, helping each other is good,” Wilder said.

Seeing this hard work pay off makes Sherrod feel good.

“If I and my team can say that we’ve done one thing, this is a positive thing. So everything about this week is positivity. And we want them to continue to have that going forth,” she said.

Female FBI agents from Springfield were also there, working with girls and sharing stories about their jobs. Students got to try on some of the gear and interact with them. It’s just another way to empower the students and show them anything is possible.

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