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Yankees captain and shortstop, Derek Jeter, hosted a youth summit to promote social change and healthy lifestyles at his Turn 2 Foundation's 2011 Jeter's Leaders Leadership Conference at the University of Tampa. He was joined by former Yankees Tino Martinez and Gerald Williams, Super Bowl champion from the Green Bay Packers, Greg Jennings, Kalamazoo mayor Bobby Hopewell, and best-selling author and activist Sister Souljah in a panel discussion addressing adversity and tenacity in achieving social, academic and career goals.
The bi-annual conference, themed "Social Change: Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Solutions," brought together approximately 250 high school students from across the country who share a common goal to make a positive change in their schools and communities. The event featured eight workshops created and presented by the New York and Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders based on topics they feel are most affecting teens in today's ever-changing society. Additionally, the three-day event included a variety of team building activities and special events that were educational, motivational and entertaining for the students as they continue through high school and prepare to enter college. Over the course of the week, the students experienced college life by staying in dorms on campus, eating in the cafeteria, and simulated the academic side of college life by attending workshops.
The event was kicked off in style with a welcoming ceremony featuring Martinez, a recent graduate of the University of Tampa and university president Dr. Ronald L. Vaughn.
A highlight that truly exemplifies the spirit of the conference was the community service project at St. Peter Claver Catholic School, the oldest African-American Catholic school in Florida. The Turn 2 Foundation worked with a local organization, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, to till soil, plant flowers, shrubs and trees, install garden fixtures and benches and stain picnic tables. The effort helped to motivate the elementary school's participation in continuing to refurbish the property. The project included a mentoring component: The high school students paired up with the elementary school students from St. Peter Claver to foster a spirit of sharing and community spirit. Each attending group painted a flower pot with motivational messages to inspire incoming students.
The Jeter's Leaders program was designed to promote healthy lifestyles, academic achievement, leadership development and social change activism among high school students. The Jeter's Leaders serve as ambassadors for Derek Jeter in their communities.
Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants.