Packers help 'Empower' next generation of leaders

Middle school students learn about giving back to their communities at Lambeau Field

Empower leadership event

Empowerment is about giving others the tools they need to be confident in their ability to initiate change. To make a difference in the community, the Green Bay Packers hosted "Empower," a leadership event for approximately 260 Northeast Wisconsin middle school students and their educators last week.

The event, typically split up over two days with girls attending one session and boys the other, was combined into one day due to weather conditions. The event had keynote speakers and various breakout sessions highlighted by topics regarding character, mental health, leadership and making a difference in communities.

The Empower event has been hosted since 2015 as one of the Packers' community outreach initiatives. Focused on developing the next generation of leaders and creating individuals of outstanding character, Empower encourages middle school students to recognize their potential to give back. A priority is placed on making sure these young leaders are aware that they have a voice and can be active members of their communities.

"I'm here to really give my students the chance to grow and develop, whether that be as individuals, in their leadership capability or people skills. It's just such a unique opportunity for kids their age to think about what they themselves can do," one attending educator remarked.

The middle schoolers started off the day with engaging keynote sessions, giving them the opportunity to workshop their own ideas about leadership. Each of the following breakout sessions gave them a chance to contemplate their own growth and potential. By helping them visualize how they can make a difference and giving them goal-setting techniques, speakers helped to inspire these developing young people.

The event gave middle school students a chance to hear about topics they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to learn about. For example, one breakout session was led by the Ashwaubenon High School Hope Squad, a club that focuses on mental health awareness along with youth suicide prevention and intervention. Attending students gained knowledge about the program and how it helps students.

Grey Ruegamer, the Packers' director of player development, also delivered a poignant keynote on the character of a champion. He spoke to the importance of developing high character, stressing qualities such as honesty, humility and responsibility in every aspect of life. He also spoke about subjects such as goal setting, conflict management, respect and accountability, providing valuable insight on what it takes to be successful. NFL Inspire Change Changemaker Award recipient Rhonda Chandler also gave a workshop on uplifting and inspiring peers. Her conversation centered around female empowerment, acceptance, future leadership and support of fellow classmates.

"We are more alike than we are different," she remarked at one point during her presentation. She highlighted how leadership is about prioritizing empathy; lifting each other up and helping others are hallmarks of true leadership.

Various activities were hosted throughout each session that not only engaged students with the material, but also enabled them to actively give back to the community. Students got the chance to create DIY snuffle mats for the Wisconsin Humane Society, creating small mats to stimulate animals while searching for treats. They also had the chance to paint rocks to serve as a symbol for mental health awareness, writing helpline and crisis numbers on the back to leave around their own communities to give hope and help individuals who need access to those resources. These are just a few of the many interactive elements throughout the day that gave students the opportunity to meaningfully give back.

The Empower seminar equipped the young students with tools and resources necessary to be a leader in all aspects of their lives, whether that be in their homes, schools or communities. The following week, on Feb. 27-28, the Packers brought Empower to Milwaukee, where 300 middle school students had the opportunity to enjoy other keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Both days of the event included motivational workshops and presentations about giving back, power affirmations, building relationships through community and tools to recover from stress.

The Packers are proud to support the youth of Wisconsin and enhance the community by providing events like Empower.

The Green Bay Packers kicked off the first day of the 'Empower' leadership event for Northeast Wisconsin middle school students at Lambeau Field on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.

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