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Brighter Futures Initiative - The LEO Program

LEO Program Logo  Life Ecology Organization, Unlock your brain. 
            Unleash your potential. Brought to you by Wood County Human Services and CW Solutions

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 & Empower Oneself. 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.

LEO 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
Phone: (715) 540-0784
Email: draper@changewithin.net

Coordinator: Kathleen Wesolowski
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Phone: (715) 315-0347
Email: wesolowski@changewithin.net

Coordinator: Miranda Reno
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Phone: (715) 315-9851
Email: mreno@changewithin.net

Coordinator: Lydia Van Beek
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Email: lvanbeek@changewithin.net

Manager: Thomas Prete
Pronouns: He/him/his
Phone: (608) 732-3888
Email: prete@changewithin.net

Manager: Nikki Holder
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Phone: (715) 216-9310
Email: holder@changewithin.net

Email: leoprogram@changewithin.net