April 17, 2024

Military Child Education Coalition Holds Leadership Program in San Antonio, Texas for Caregiving Youth

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®) welcomed ten students from across the United States to the Caregiving Youth Student Leadership Program (CYSLP) at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), April 5-9, 2024. The selected students, aged 15-17, represented eight high schools from six states across the country and had military-connected affiliations to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and National Guard.

  • St. John’s Academy, St. Augustine, Florida
  • Pinecrest High School, Southern Pines, North Carolina
  • Union Pines High School, Cameron, North Carolina
  • Madison School, San Antonio, Texas
  • Copperas Cove High School, Copperas Cove, Texas
  • Living Legacy Academy, Scotts Hill, Tennessee
  • Grissom High School, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Medical Lake High School, Medical Lake, Washington

Caregiving youth – also known as Hidden Helpers, an initiative of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation – are children and young adults (up to age 18) who are actively involved in or impacted by the care needs of a wounded, ill, or injured service member. MCEC established the scholarship-based program in 2023, which offers a platform for these students to connect, learn, and grow together. The subjects are serious, but addressed in a fun, caring environment with adult and peer support.

“At MCEC, we work to ensure every military-connected child is college-, work-, and life-ready. Through generous support from Wounded Warrior Project®, the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA), and local San Antonio businesses, the challenges these students face are recognized, and they are supported by peers and adults alike,” said MCEC President and CEO Dr. Becky Porter. “It is our goal to help them explore opportunities as they grow.”

The Caregiving Youth students toured UTSA departments and dorms, and learned about its majors, financial aid, and support for military families. Dr. Thomas Porter, professor at UTSA, held a two-day workshop, “Storytelling: Hidden Helpers’ Unseen Journey of Healing,” in which participants drafted their personal stories as an exercise to help process and understand their experiences and feelings. The students could share their stories with each other if they wished, which helped them see that they are truly not alone — there are others who can relate, and who care.

One student expressed their gratitude, stating, “I liked how we shared our stories of what we have been through, that regular people wouldn’t understand, and it sort of lifted something off my chest that I have felt pressure from for years now.”

The week also included two sessions by the American Red Cross: Communication and Coping Skills. Students were engaged in activities that enhanced listening and speaking skills and provided techniques for stress release and self-regulation. Special Olympics of Texas introduced opportunities to mentor students with special needs through sports programs their schools could get involved in.

MCEC educators led an in-depth session on Transformational Leadership, outlining the four types of leadership:

  1. Idealized Influence, based on strong values/good character
  2. Inspirational Motivation, based on initiative, energy, and persistence
  3. Intellectual Stimulation, encouraging creativity and rational thinking to seek superior outcomes
  4. Individualized Consideration, treating others as individuals with unique needs, abilities, and aspirations.

Students applied what they learned and could decide the style that fit them best for leadership, and which style they would respond best to from a leader. As the events concluded, one student reflected, “This probably has been the best week of my life thanks to all of you and I love y’all. I could never forget this week and I’m going to miss you tremendously. I hope this isn’t the end of our journeys together though and I plan on seeing all of you again.”

For media inquiries:

Please contact the MCEC Director of Marketing, Karen Kirk, at Karen.Kirk@MilitaryChild.org, for questions about this release.


About the Military Child Education Coalition:
MCEC® is a 501(c)(3) global nonprofit leadership, service delivery, and advocacy organization. MCEC supports all military-connected children by educating, advocating, and collaborating to resolve education challenges associated with the military lifestyle. Learn more about the national advocacy efforts of MCEC at MilitaryChild.org and on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About the Elizabeth Dole Foundation:
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is the preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill or injured veterans. elizabethdolefoundation.org

About Wounded Warrior Project:
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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