Focused on new perspectives


Rita Wylie

After visiting City Hall, juniors Lily McMorrow, Lauren Schumacher, Naomi Kodama and Anum Chaudhry explored different downtown neighborhoods.

Today more than ever, people are hiding from new experiences and closing their minds to the different perspectives others offer. In order to see past the discrimination and prejudice, FOCUS Youth Leadership St. Louis (YLSL) recruited a group of students from each Parkway high school.

YLSL is a program for high school juniors selected for leadership qualities and leadership potential to attend different activities in St. Louis. These activities will push students out of their comfort zones so that they can experience different people’s viewpoints.

“We get together once a month to discover new perspectives through different group activities that explore different areas of trouble in St. Louis,” junior Lily McMorrow said.

The goals of the program are to create a learning environment for the students to improve leadership skills and help students experience new perspectives.

“The overall goal is to become a more understanding individual that is able to take other people’s opinions into account,” McMorrow said.

Recently, YLSL visited St. Patrick’s Center, the Holocaust Museum and City Hall. The program enables students to encounter eye-opening experiences that will broaden their view of St. Louis.

“For most of my life I have been really dedicated to the global community, and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to learn more about the city where I was raised for most of my life and interact with different people throughout the area that are not from my school,” junior Naomi Kodama said.

YLSL motivates students to work with each other and push themselves out of their comfort zones in order to be exposed to different problems in St. Louis.

“At every session we are divided into three or four different groups, and they don’t include people from our same school. It really forces us to get to know people from other schools and work together towards a common goal,” McMorrow said.

YLSL allows students to connect with other students from different high schools across St. Louis.

“It’s a unique experience that encourages not only cooperation between students of different high schools, but also working towards solving real issues that plague the St. Louis Metropolitan area today that many of us may not even be aware of,” Kodama said. “As we will be the ones soon to inherit the place to take care of, I feel as though it is important for us to be exposed to both the beauties and the troubles of St. Louis, how we can keep what is beautiful and change what is wrong.”