“Worth more than gold” is a theme that still resonates with Brad, a third-year student at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. The powerful words bring him back to high school and the 360 Youth Services’ Snowball retreat where he served in the coveted role of Teen Director. As he reflects on the eight Snowball retreats he attended, he says he never planned to go. But friends thought differently, and his sophomore year at Naperville Central, he joined them for the first of many. He said the retreats helped him figure out who he was and with whom he wanted to surround himself. He appreciated the inclusive environment and culture of acceptance. He ended up with a rich support network that continues today. The Snowball retreats gave him a solid foundation in which to evaluate decisions for the future. He encourages others to experience Snowball; visit www.360youthservices.org/snowball for details.

Some of the most valuable skills Brad learned at Snowball were leadership strategies. Those organizational and interpersonal leadership skills are still serving him well. At UW where the technically talented Brad studies Informatics, he is a student leader and helps plan networking, social, and professional events. He is also a liaison with the faculty for student concerns such as curriculum changes and student feedback. He says if he hadn’t attended Snowball, he seriously doubts he would be a leader like he is for the Informatics Undergraduate Association at UW, which is definitely “worth more than gold.”

And that’s where Brad is now.

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