Many Firsts for Imani – Flying, Canoeing, Dolphins, Everglades, and Leading
“I always thought of myself as a good follower to a good leader. I was surprised to learn that I am a leader,” said Imani Simon, daughter of Cynthia and Ronald Simon, a senior at Georgetown High School. Imani was 1 of 12 students enrolled in our Youth Empowerment Program who completed the North Carolina Outward Bound in the Florida Everglades. “The adventure was many firsts for me: flying in a plane, maneuvering in a massive airport, canoeing and navigating narrow and large bodies of water, seeing turtles and dolphins, evolving into a leader, and much more. The experience changed me in so many ways.”
Becoming a Leader
“On our last day, we woke up at 6:30 AM, made breakfast, and our team guides from Outward Bound gave us our last tips in navigating back to our home base. Earlier in the week, I was selected as one of our team leaders. Ultimately, we were responsible for leading the team back to our starting point. We departed in our canoes and started our journey. Our team worked together to make decisions. When we got tired, we stopped and rested. When we got frustrated, we would take breaks and talk through our frustrations. When we felt lost, we stopped to reconsider our course. We took care of each other. We really bonded as a group. As we worked through the many barriers, I realized the team looked to me for encouragement and leadership. At that point, I knew I could be a confident leader. I felt a sense of pride about what I learned about myself.
At dusk, an hour before we would reach base, a strong wind began. We were all scared but we talked our way through our fears knowing we were so close to home base. We took our flashlight and secured to the front of the boat to see and for others to see us. The other team at the home base saw our light before we could see them. They started yelling and we yelled back. As we got closer to the shore, they were cheering and we were cheering. That was a real high for all of us.
Thinking back on the first day, I wondered what I got myself into, but I persevered. I learned that I am a leader. When our team did not know where to go, they looked to me for guidance. I looked to them for their ideas and support.
I am so thankful for all the donors who made this possible. I am thankful for Tasha and Teon for their leadership and support. Thank you, Helping Hands for making this possible.”
Bill Gaskins, Associate Director of Helping Hands of Georgetown, said, “Imani is a great young lady. I first met her in September when we kicked off YEP. After talking with her for this interview, I see a new and more confident person. She has a great future ahead of her. She is still sorting out her dreams for the future. She wants to see the world and wants to be in a position to help other people. She thinks about going into the military to open up other possibilities. The school year is not over and her last few months in YEP will definitely shape her future path.”
About Youth Empowerment Program
YEP connects high school juniors and seniors with a program that promotes stability and health in their lives with the practical goal of full time employment upon graduation that represents a first career step in their lives.