Read about the impact of the Unity Program on our Alumni Blog.
Empowering communities of young people to initiate social change.
The Unity Project is a program that operates in Charlotte in partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. A group of 12 students from each Unity school is chosen to represent the diversity of their community. They then embark on a wilderness expedition designed to assert their common humanity, to develop their courage and compassion as leaders, to establish a democratic forum within which to discussion challenging issues, and to create a model community within their crew. Upon returning home, the group forms a Unity Club to organize and implement projects addressing issues that affect their community.
Compassionate Leadership: Participants discover and develop their potential to care for themselves, others and the world around them.
Community Building: Participants construct a model community for themselves.
Diversity Awareness: Participants increase awareness of stereotyping and discrimination in their community and in their own actions and beliefs.
Moral Courage: Participants develop the courage to challenge and change actions or beliefs in order to create a more just and inclusive community.
Action for Social Change: Participants organize community projects that address issues of diversity and social justice.
Phase I: Recruitment and Preparation
Students are recruited to represent the diversity of their school or youth group and the wider community. Preparation occurs by community-building within the group, introducing students to diversity issues, briefing students for their wilderness course and getting physically fit.
Phase II: Wilderness Course
High school students undertake a seven-day wilderness course. During this time, students develop personal qualities they need to become community leaders and create a learning culture within which issues of diversity and social justice can be positively addressed. This community of 12 offers a model from which students can analyze their community back home and imagine a more inclusive and just future.
Expedition travel (backpacking)
High impact activity (rock climbing, rappelling, ropes course, whitewater canoeing or rafting, night paddling)
Group initiatives and discussions
Solo reflection and journaling
Phase III: Community Projects
Upon returning to their schools, Unity students organize and participate in community projects that apply their new skills and initiate meaningful social change.
A teacher, counselor or other school staff member acts as the school’s Unity Advisor. The Advisor’s role is to recruit students for the wilderness course and Unity Club, and support students through the design and execution of their projects. The Advisor is supported through all phases of the Unity Project by the NCOBS Unity Curriculum and the Charlotte Program Coordinator. We strongly recommend that every coordinator takes an NCOBS Educator’s Course.
Outward Bound courses open their minds to the diversity around them and causes them to reach beyond their more comfortable social boundaries.
-Meredith Sherrill, Counselor at Myers Park H.S. in Charlotte
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