Students participate in a yoga class as part of their training at the recently closed Windsong Peace and Leadership Center near Patagonia Lake.

After fifteen years, Windsong Peace and Leadership Center, located at Lake Patagonia closed its doors in September. The center, which has trained thousands of young people
from around the country, was located in the home of the late Virginia Benderly in the Patagonia Lake area.

Windsong was part of “Me to We” a global non-profit organization, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. “Me to We” was founded by Craig & Marc Kielburger, who oversee a “family of organizations dedicated to the power of WE, a movement of people coming
together to change the world. In the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, WE Schools and WE Day provide comprehensive service learning programs to 10,000 schools, engaging 2.4 million young change-makers.”

Windsong came to be part of the WE story in 2003 when Virginia “Gini” Benderly opened her home to Leadership Camps. Windsong shared, “Gini was an artist, author, composer and musician who supported many causes and became like family to Craig Kielburger, Co-Founder of the organization, due to their shared passion for empowering youth to be social leaders of their generation. Through collaboration and a shared vision with Gini, the Windsong Peace and Leadership Center was born, and has been home to some of the most inspiring and transformational programming, hosting over 4,000 youth over the years.”

Windsong leadership trainings tackled important issues such as border migration, climate and environment, and social justice with the youth who spent up to one week at the Center. Most of the students came from urban areas around the country or Canada, and Windsong was their first time in a natural setting and first exposure to borderland politics, ecology and culture.

Windsong Management shared that it was an incredibly difficult decision to close the doors of Windsong. They hope that they can “under the leadership of Erin Blanding, one of the brightest leaders in service-learning program development and an incredible friend and mentor at Windsong, infuse the learnings and experiences from Windsong to all of our programs in Canada and the United States.”

Further, “WE will be working to develop a legacy project to ensure Gini’s memory” and “Erin and her team will be working on expanding the richness born at Windsong to a global scale, elevating our key programs through the WE Global Learning Centre, camp
programming, leadership training, and other amazing offerings. We know she will make Gini proud.”