After years of discussing the possibility, Atlanta city officials were able to take advantage of Outward Bound Atlanta’s (OBA) executive leadership programs. On Feb. 19, 17 members of Atlanta’s City Council spent their afternoon engaged in an OBA leadership course designed to promote leadership, problem solving and trust.
Thanks to the leadership of Council President Ceasar Mitchell, and the willingness of council members, the leadership program was included as part of their Annual Retreat. The Council’s retreat is a full-day experience designed to bring members together in a dynamic way to support their efforts to improve the city of Atlanta. While the day began with a focus on finances and strategic planning, the later portion of the day used Outward Bound’s unique programming to explore new ways to meet the challenges ahead. Taking learning out of a traditional classroom setting, the Council engaged in a series of mental and physical challenges on the Low Ropes Course located on the campus of The New Schools at Carver.
Council members were also addressed by Dr. Darian Jones, principal of Carver’s School of Health Sciences and Research. Dr. Jones shared how the Council’s work impacts the community and the students of the school specifically. He also mentioned how collaborating with Outward Bound Atlanta has supported The New Schools at Carver’s monumental increase of their graduation rate from 14.4 percent in 2002 to 94 percent this past May.
For over two hours, the experience encouraged Council members to think critically on how they can increase their leadership capacity to address the city’s needs. Relating their experience to their work at the City Council, Outward Bound Atlanta instructors had Council members tackle hard questions such as, “How do you handle adversity individually and as a group; how do you work together and not give up your individual perspective or the needs of the constituents you represent?; and, how do you lead a city during the worst financial crisis in 100 years?”
The City Council used its individual and collective strengths to overcome each challenge on the Low Ropes Course, and committed to using that same fervor in working for Atlanta. In the words of Council President Mitchell, “The experience was engaging, stimulating and inspiring.”