Five Link 7th graders led approximately 40 employees from Toyota North America in team building initiative games and exercises last month. The students were readily able to take this on, as all Link scholars participate in a four-year program that builds confidence, leadership and team spirit. Now they had the opportunity to put their skill and knowledge to use to help others!
After a visit to Link, Toyota North America General Manager Jeff Buchanan expressed interest in providing a team building event for employees that would include the building of bicycles, something he had experienced earlier in his career. Link’s staff stepped in with a suggestion: utilize Link scholars, guided by staff from Project U.S.E., the school’s partner in experiential learning, to conduct the event. Impressed with the Linkers he had met on his visit, Mr. Buchanan made it happen!
The Link students involved were well prepared for the event. While they had actually experienced some of the initiative games and challenges over their tenure at Link, Project U.S.E. staff members provided additional training in how to actually lead others through a day of activities. They learned how to explain clearly, how to encourage and praise, and how to deal with problems which might arise. They were absolutely ready to take this on!
After a “get-to-know-you” lunch, the adults were divided into five groups with a student facilitating each group. As they completed each of the games or challenges, they “earned” parts to the bicycles that they would eventually assemble. One adult mentioned that the some of the exercises were more difficult that the actual building of the bike!
The students did an amazing job moving the adults through the day, helping them navigate the challenges of the exercises and the bike building tasks. One student commented that at first he was anxious, but then realized that some of the adults were even more nervous than he was!
Gathering together at the end of the day, all has the opportunity to reflect on what they experienced and what they learned. Everyone – adult and student alike – walked away feeling a sense of achievement: in building a bike, in connecting with new people, and with feeling empowered to meet challenges.
Employees from Toyota presented the bikes to the five students who led them so professionally. We are grateful for our partnerships with both Project U.S.E. and Toyota for this wonderful opportunity to help our students grow!