The History of CLAY
Creating Leadership Amongst Youth (CLAY) is a leadership conference that was created for high-school students to challenge themselves as well as develop and share leadership skills to be empower others within their communities.
Founded in October 1992 as “Head Start” by the External Affairs and Promotions department of the McMaster Students Union (MSU), the conference was a one-day workshop with approximately 60 Hamilton high-school participants and 20 McMaster student leaders. In earlier years, the “Head Start” conference was concerned with not having enough volunteers to facilitate clinics in addition to financial concerns.
Despite these financial concerns, the conference itself had great success. High-school students, staff members and teaching administration of high-schools gave nothing but positive feedback. This resulted in the use of workshop sessions and activities from the conference as classroom materials and teaching modules in the high schools of the delegates who participated in the conference.
Based on a small group of volunteers with unparalleled enthusiasm and drive, the “Head Start” Conference changed its name in to CLAY in 1999. Since then, the conference has undergone many dramatic changes, such as shifting from lecture style-oriented workshops to group activities and participation-orientated sessions, with the encouragement and support of the McMaster Students Union.
With the support of the MSU in 1999, a total of 144 high-school delegates (from Hamilton and the surrounding area) and 40 McMaster student leaders participated in the 3-day, 2-night CLAY ’99 conference. CLAY ‘99 comprised of various group activities, two motivational speakers, a Pinx Production video dance, a live band (Ken Emerson) and numerous leadership sessions such as, trust & risk and self-awareness.
Today, through dedicated commitment of the CLAY community and assistance from the McMaster Students Union, CLAY has become a national conference. The 3-day, 2-night leadership conference is tailored to meet the needs of various high-school students who wish to develop and challenge their leadership skills through numerous innovative and interactive activities in a safe and inclusive environment conducive to learning.
The success of the CLAY conference is a reflection of a passionate and determined community that started as a small group of like-minded individuals who dared to pioneer leadership opportunities for the Hamilton community. The CLAY community is forever grateful to the CLAYERs (people within the community) for their unconditional love and dedication to youth empowerment, to the McMaster Students Union for its response to a community need and to the Hamilton Community for its continued commitment and support of the conference.
The CLAY community welcomes all individuals who have a dedication to assist youth empowerment, a desire to challenge themselves, and those looking for a sense of community. For those searching for an environment to find themselves, while being in the comfort of individuals who provide unconditional support and foster personal growth – you are welcomed with a warm heart and open arms.
(Modified November 2012)