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 What is The LEO Program?

The LEO Program is a state-approved interactive resilience building program for youth ages 14-20 in Wood County, WI. LEO stands for Learn & EmpowerOneself. The mission of The LEO Program is to empower youth to understand their unique brains and quickly improve resilience, adaptability, and fearlessness in a rapidly changing world.

LEO Lower Brain Higher Brain Comparison

Resilience is the ability to bounce back during challenging circumstances. Resilience helps individuals recover from setbacks, adapt well to change and keep going in the face of adversity.

In 8 hours of interactive curriculum, LEO explores how the human brain works and why our brain is not prepared for the challenges of today’s world. Our lower brain, also known as the survival brain, dominates our day to day life. 

Who can participate in The LEO Program? 

To be eligible for the LEO program, a youth participant needs to be:

  • Age 14—20
  • Residing in Wood County or attending school in Wood County
  • Not diagnosed with a substance use disorder by a qualified professional

Who operates The LEO Program?

The LEO Program operates as a partnership between CW Solutions and Wood County Human Services. LEO is provided in area schools and community agencies. LEO is funded by the Brighter Futures Initiative through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Program curriculum is adapted from the Life Ecology Organization, founded by Dr. Niraj Nijhawan. LEO began operating in Wood County in January 2019.

Untitled design 3Data is for the 2019 reporting year. LEO is required to collect specific data for reporting for funding. Participants complete a pre, post, and annual survey. Survey questions address basic demographic information, mental health, quality of life, social media use, and substance use.  All data is kept confidential.  

 Exploration & Mentorship 

Youth participants can volunteer to have one-on-one or small group LEO Exploration & Mentorship (LEM) meetings with the program coordinator, outside of the program sessions. The purpose of LEM activity is to provide support to participants on the application of LEO strategies. Participants are eligible for LEM until they are no longer eligible for program participation.

 Participant Testimonials 

“I love LEO the tools I learned in LEO! They are so helpful in times of stress or when I'm freaking out. Before LEO, I used to freak out and stress all the time about almost everything. Now, I know how to change my thought process when I am freaking out or stressing out, to see if I should really be worried about what I was worrying about.” – Sarah K., LEO Participant  

 “I was connected to The LEO Program as it was getting started and knew when I had learned of its focus on building resiliency in youth that it was something special. This past fall the entire LHS volleyball program participated in LEO. It set a tone for the entire season that was unlike any other... a common understanding of struggles in each other’s lives and a common understanding of ways to continue to push through those struggles. LEO empowered our players to really see themselves for what they are capable of handling and then also know they not only had tools to pull from in times of need but a great LEO team to resource if necessary. Thank you!” – Valerie Tonn, Lincoln High School Volleyball Coach 

“I really enjoyed every session of The LEO Program and it helped me when I was feeling stress. My favorite tool that we learned is Meditation because there are so many ways to meditate. My way is mediating on God's word.” – Caleb K., LEO Participant 

Program Contacts

To find The LEO Program near you or to bring The LEO Program to your school/ community, please contact:

Coordinator: Kathryn Draper

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Region: North Wood County (Marshfield area)

Phone: (715) 540-0784

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Coordinator: Kathleen Wesolowski

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Region: South Wood County (Wisconsin Rapids area)

Phone: (715) 315-0347

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Program Manager: Nikki Holder

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Phone: (715) 216 - 9130

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