Conway, S.C. (WPDE) — While college students are away on spring break, Coastal Carolina University opened up campus to a group of high school students.
On Monday, students from nine counties attended the annual Leadership Grand Strand Youth Leadership Academy.
About 15 students from each school participated in activities aimed at making them better leaders.
Mentors at the event said establishing leadership foundations during adolescence is becoming more important.
"Kids in high school are being confronted with serious issues. [They] no longer wait until college to be exposed to drugs, sexting, violence. It's important for them to learn at a younger age today how to be leaders," said Josh Holford.
Attendees said the structure of the event helps to promote leadership even among teens who might not otherwise rise to leadership roles so easily.
"You get put in small group, do a lot of leadership activities where it forces someone to come out and be a leader," said Ryan Dion, a Socastee High School student.
Dozens of local business leaders served as mentors in the program.
Socastee High School students received the Students In Action Service Award presented by the Jefferson Awards Foundation.
The award is given based on outstanding community service.