Global Student Leadership Summit billed as London’s biggest-ever conference

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A conference for young leaders promises to bring thousands of students to London this spring for what’s being billed as London’s largest convention ever.

The Global Student Leadership Summit will roll into town in April, attracting 3,000 young people from more than 20 countries for three days of networking, workshops and inspirational speakers.

Stu Saunders, chair of the summit, said the convention would fill every downtown hotel and restaurant in London. He pegged the economic impact at $3 million over the course of the conference.

“A conference of this size has never taken place in London, Ontario. It’s the largest convention, as far as we can tell, ever held,” Saunders told a crowd at the London Convention Centre on Wednesday.

That will be the site for the summit, which will feature more than 60 guest speakers on topics like community building, healthy schools, the environment and social activism.

The summit is a new project for Saunders’s organization, Youth Leadership Camps Canada, which runs leadership and development programs for young people.

London is the first location for the conference, though it may expand to other countries in future years.

“It’s guaranteed to be an event that will inspire the next generation of leaders. That’s really the whole point,” Saunders said.

Mayor Matt Brown went further, saying it could change young people’s lives.

“They’re going to feel ready to go out there and make a difference,” he said. “This isn’t going to be a snapshot in time, because the feeling they get from participating . . . is going to stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

But he also argued the summit would benefit London as a whole, citing the economic impact of thousands of young people spending money downtown.

Western University’s Huron University College is partnering to help bring the summit to London. Its principal, Barry Craig, said the school was excited about the guests that will flood into the city this April.

“We have a prime need for visionary leadership,” he said.

“The summit will bring in thousands of young people who are stepping up.”

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