Dozens of young men completed an intense weekend leadership course

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BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – Dozens of young men from downtown Buffalo have returned after facing an intense three-day leadership training retreat in Beaver Hollow to learn essential leadership skills for life.

Dav Quan Walker, 18, and Andrew Middlebrooks, 15, tell 7 News about their experiences and the power of teamwork.

We learned to stick together and try not to put anyone down,” Walker says. “We tried to bring everyone together as a team.”

The young men also learned the importance of responsibility through bootcamp-type experiences.

“If one person does something stupid, the whole group should bend down and do push-ups, basically learning responsibility and accountability,” Middlebrooks says.

This training was a life-changing experience for all these young men, as they learned self-love, leadership and resilience.

“80% of the children did not want to come, and we asked them. They said my parents brought me here and I didn’t want to be here, and they said it out of their mouths,” says organizer and global resilience trainer Duncan Kirkwood. “They didn’t want to do the march and say yes sir, no sir, but after they finished the 88th push-up they straightened up. They learned to look someone in the eye and to be a team and to be responsible for each other.

Many of these young leaders say they want to take on future leadership positions.

“I want to be a firefighter. It was my dream job, but if there’s something else that opens up to be a leader like a battalion commander and I lead, I’ll do it,” Middlebrooks says. “It takes a bit like being a big brother to people.”

Some say they are already looking forward to the next retreat.

“There aren’t a lot of programs that are out there for young black men, especially to be leaders, and we need them now more than ever,” Walker says.

The global resilience trainer says there will be another intensive leadership training course next spring for women.

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