Society & Culture, Practice & Voice, BeyondBelief

Creating Inclusive Leaders: Stories from Anytown




At All Souls, we want to equip our youth to see the world and its people with clear vision and compassion. So, we were excited when some of our students got the wonderful chance to attend the Anytown Leadership Institute, put on by the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice. At Anytown, students participate in workshops and activities that develop their awareness and skills to lead in a diverse society. In a safe environment, they have the chance to discuss topics such as bullying, racial discrimination, and gender stereotypes. Students also engage in action-planning for taking leadership on issues of inclusion and justice.

Here are the awesome stories they brought back with them:

Nick Benway, Senior

“Camp Anytown was fun, and I really enjoyed the community that formed around everyone there. I learned a lot about social justice issues and how to use that knowledge to become a better leader.

“It was really interesting to hear firsthand experiences. I was able to connect with them to learn about how it impacts everyone.  Participation at Camp Anytown was amazing.  Everyone participated in the activities, and we came together as a group to solve problems and learn something from those experiences.  I feel like this experience prepared and educated me on a lot of issues we face in society every day that have to do with prejudice and perception of one another. Being educated on these issues will help to stop prejudices.”

“We thought Nick would benefit from learning about different cultures and meet other kids with different backgrounds and belief systems,” said Steve Benway-Hardwick, Nick’s father. “That’s why we attend All Souls, too—to be a part of a diverse cultural community. Camp Anytown offers kids exposure and interaction on a cultural level.”

Demetra Sanders, Sophomore

“Camp Anytown was the most accepting camp I could ever go to. I enjoyed learning how diversity brings us closer, and how you get a chance to have fun while doing it. Meeting new friends, and learning new things everyday is just incredible. Camp Anytown is the camp that every child should be a part of.”

“It is important to me that Demetra is around youths of different and diverse backgrounds to connect with new people and experience something new,” said Demetra’s mother, Nefertiti. “I’ve seen a stronger connection with the community from her and it has her eager for bigger plans in her future.”

Colin Rockholt, Senior

“Camp Anytown was a great experience! It was definitely a cool experience. It was a lot of fun, and we really developed a tight knit group over the week. I would definitely recommend this camp for a young high school student.”

How to Participate in All Souls’ School Programs

Interested in getting involved with our children and youth programs? Well, All Souls’ Church School Kick-off is just around the corner! Sunday, August 18, we’ll celebrate the start of the school year. We’ll welcome our families, commission our teachers, and bless our students! If you’re a parent or caregiver, you can tour our intentionally-inclusive church school program and meet the teachers! Here is the schedule:

Kindergarten Kick-off & Children Religious Exploration registration, 9:00 a.m.   

Back-to-School Blessing & Teacher Commissioning, 10:10 a.m. all families in service 

Meet the Teachers & CYP Open House, 11:00 a.m. following the first service 

Children’s Chapel & Classes, 11:30 a.m.  

Pool Party for Youth (9-12 grade),1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Photos courtesy of Anytown Leadership Institute


Corey Smith is the Youth Director at All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To learn more about our Children’s and Youth Religious Education, visit us at allsoulschurch.org.

Read more on BeyondBelief.online from the 2019 Boston Pilgrimage

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