Students participating last summer in the Walsh Academy of Leadership at the American Village. (contributed)
Students participating last summer in the Walsh Academy of Leadership at the American Village. (contributed)

Archived Story

High school students scale the WAL this summer

Published 2:26pm Monday, June 24, 2013

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

The Walsh Academy of Leadership — affectionately known as The WAL — is a one-of-a-kind camp right here in Shelby County. It is named for lifelong educator and community leader Dr. Kevin Walsh, who founded the Youth Leadership Development Program in 2008.

The YLDP has grown to serve over 500 students representing 53 different high schools from around the greater Birmingham area. It has also branched out to develop YLDPs in St. Clair and Blount/Cullman counties.

The Walsh Academy of Leadership is a three-night/four-day leadership experience for upcoming high school seniors on the beautiful campuses of the University of Montevallo and the American Village. The camp exposes students to many new and diverse individuals, ideas and situations that challenge them as leaders. It is designed to give young people an even more in-depth experience in developing as students, leaders, and citizens.

“At the WAL, students feel as if they are a part of history,” YLDP Associate Director Leisl Harris said. “They re-enact pivotal moments ranging from the decision for the colonies to rebel against the British Crown, to the debate over ratifying the United States Constitution. In addition, they listen to expert speakers, participate in a heart stopping amazing race, experience life on the UM campus, make new friends and meet future leaders of the community.”

Students selected for the YLDP program are recommended by their high school principals and counselors. Students who successfully complete the WAL are automatically eligible to participate in the YLDP program. Successful YLDP graduates are eligible to apply for scholarships funded by corporate and community sponsors to universities and junior colleges in the State of Alabama.

This year’s WAL takes place July 24-27. The cost is $175 per student, full and partial scholarships are available to qualified students. To register, go to and click on the WAL tab. For additional information contact Harris at

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