by: Amberly Peterson
If you don’t know about Key Leader, you should. Put simply, it’s a weekend leadership event for high school students. But more than that, it’s a life-changing experience. Just ask David.
He’s a current Key Club district chairman and a former Key Club lieutenant governor, but he attests that much of his self-confidence and leadership skills came from attending Key Leader.
Before Key Leader, David was quiet and suicidal. He was physically mistreated and mentally abused. He had no friends and he was failing many of his classes. He even cut his arms just to feel something. At the concern and urging of his stepmother, David attended a Key Leader weekend. And his whole life changed.
“This all came to pass through an amazing program like no other,” David says. “That program was Key Leader. I went to the weekend invited by my concerned stepmother, and from that weekend on I changed. It awakened me, the real me. I was able to gain the self-confidence I never had—self-confidence that broke me free from that abusive life. One that brought me to live with my dad, and one that brought me into this great Kiwanis family. My grades now: all A's, with maybe a B or two. Key Club is now my life.”
The first time I saw David was in the Kiwanis International Office during an Indiana District Key Club meeting. He arrived after I was already sitting down, but he caught my attention because he walked in wearing a T-shirt promoting the Key Club event we were there to talk about. He had taken the initiative to create the T-shirt on his own and he was proudly showing it off to his fellow Key Clubbers. My first impression was that he was driven and ambitious.
The next time I saw David was at the 2010 Circle K International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. I was uploading photos to the end-of-convention PowerPoint slideshow in the lobby of the Mallinckrodt Center at Washington University when he sat down next to me. He was at the convention with his cousin, a 2009–10 Circle K International Board member. We talked about the photos and I asked him about the Key Club event he’d been working on. He was conversational, bright, polite and energetic.
At each of those two meetings, I had no idea that he was the same David I’d heard about in the office. Meeting David and then later connecting the dots between his past and his present was an eye-opener for me. It speaks volumes about the power of Key Leader. If a weekend can change a life this dramatically, why wouldn’t you send a high school student you know to a Key Leader event?
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