At a ceremony on Friday, twenty-one young women from Flint graduated from the Michigan State Police Youth Leadership Academy (MSPYLA). The MSPYLA is designed to inspire teens to recognize their potential, be leaders and mentors in their communities and develop personal character through partnerships with law enforcement.

During the week-long academy, held at the MSP Training Academy in Lansing, officers from the MSP, Flint Police Department, Genesee Township Police Department, Mott Community College Police Department and Michigan State University Police Department served as mentors and classroom instructors. Lessons focused on the “Keys for Character,” which include Service, Integrity, Excellence, Courtesy and Pride; teaching the cadets how to apply these “Keys” to their everyday lives in an effort to have a positive impact on their nation, state, community, schools, homes and personal lives.

Areas of instruction included: physical training, first aid, ethics, military drill, water safety, presentation skills, interview skills, leadership and other team and character building exercises. Cadets also received presentations by the MSP Canine Unit, Precision Driving Unit and Emergency Support Team.

The program also included a tour of the State Capitol and an opportunity to write letters of support to soldiers and letters of appreciation to their families, as well as training modules from the Teaching, Educating and Mentoring (T.E.A.M.) program on the topics of “Understanding Law Enforcement,” “Violence has No Place in a Relationship” and “Gangs and Violence – Problem Solving.”

The MSP has been running the MSPYLA since 2005. To date, 769 teens have attended the academy representing the cities of Benton Harbor, Battle Creek, Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac, and Saginaw. This program is federally funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG).