When we think of great leaders, we tend to neglect the leadership skills of young people and the impact they can have on their communities. The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) provides a platform for young people to make a significant impact in their communities and communities impacted by the landmine crisis while developing important leadership skills along the way.
Fifteen years ago, Diana Enzi (wife of Senator Mike Enzi R-WY) partnered with MLI to begin the Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS). This program is designed for young children to learn about the human consequences of landmines and how people and dogs are working together to make a better and safer world. CHAMPS students are empowered to become part of the solution for a mine-free world. Since the inception of the program, children from around the United States have sponsored forty-six mine detection dogs working in seven different countries through student-led fundraisers and activities. In addition to sponsoring life-saving dogs, these children have also assisted more than eight hundred landmine survivors to receive prosthetic limbs, mobility aids and other medical assistance.
The power of young people does not stop there. In 2018, MLI implemented a program called Peace Makers and Problem Solvers (PMPS) to connect high school and university-aged students in the US and countries such as Colombia through activities focused on leadership, communication, peace keeping, problem solving and project management. During this year long program, students meet virtually each month and as a culminating activity, they create and implement a service project to directly benefit their community. In past sessions of the program, student participants have created activities to promote non-violence and peaceful conflict management with elementary aged children in their communities.
In 2021, MLI launched Peace Through Sport (PTS), which unites youth from the US and Lebanon for an eight-week virtual exchange program to promote social cohesion, foster civic engagement, and showcase US values through the lens of sport. During the first round of the program held in October/November of 2021, seventy young people met virtually, heard from an American sports representative, and implemented projects that positively impacted more than two hundred people in their community. This program is generously funded by the US Embassy in Lebanon.
The Marshall Legacy Institute has empowered young people of all ages for more than fifteen years through their educational programs. It is never too early to teach children and young people that they have the power to create positive and lasting change. For more information or to become involved with MLI’s programs, please visit www.marshall-legacy.org