(New Orleans, La.)–Local high school students hope to show that laughter is still the best medicine for a special group of teen cancer survivors. The Young Adult Leadership Development Program (LDP), a program from the non-profit Heart of Passion, has spent the past year gaining hands-on business and leadership experience while organizing their annual Red Carpet Retreat from June 4-7 throughout the city of New Orleans.
At this retreat, teens from cancer centers in Louisiana and Mississippi will enjoy an inspiring weekend designed to create lasting memories and strong emotional bonds among fellow cancer survivors. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas will host a before-hours "Breakfast with the Sharks" for the special group on Thursday, June 5 at 8am in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit along with a tour of the Aquarium.
Heart of Passion’s Red Carpet Retreats takes a “for teens from teens” approach that serves the cancer patients while providing practical training to young adult leaders. Every dollar, every minute on the itinerary, and every detail for the patients was imagined and carried out by Heart of Passion’s LDP cohort. For the year leading up to the retreat, these students interface with business executives, design their own marketing strategies, and network with vendors and sponsors – and they do it all for a mission they know is larger than themselves.
“Cancer affects all demographics and ages, and our leaders are passionate about comforting their peers that have had to face this inexplicable disease,” says Savannah Solomon, Tulane masters of business administration graduate, childhood cancer survivor, and founder of Heart of Passion. “They are eager to learn and achieve, but they want to see first-hand the direct impact of their work. At our retreats, healthy teen leaders and guests are so intermingled that it’s sometimes impossible to tell who’s healthy and who’s not. The feeling of normalcy that results simultaneously comforts our guests and inspires our leaders. We equip our leaders with business lessons and this first-hand experience that we expect to be the foundation of a lifetime of service.”
Since its founding in 2002, Heart of Passion has hosted 14 “Red Carpet Day” retreats for teens with cancer in Atlanta, Dallas, and New Orleans, serving over 450 patients in those regions. The last four of these retreats have been the culmination of HoP’s Young Adult Leadership Development Program, which now boasts 67 graduates. Heart of Passion intends to pave the way for a future of socially minded, personally responsible community and business leaders while providing solace to teens who need comfort now. The 2013-2014 New Orleans cohort consists of students from Metairie Park Country Day School, Louise S. McGehee School, and Loranger High School.
For more information on Heart of Passion and its programs visit heartofpassion.org or facebook.com/HeartofPassion.