The Latinx Youth Leadership Conference is an annual event that celebrates Latinx culture and helps Latinx middle and high school students learn to share peace through leadership. The primary goal of this event is to promote youth development, leadership, and positive cultural identity while enabling teens to see their role as peacemakers and learn individual actions to share with their families, schools, and neighborhoods. Participating youth have the opportunity to meet students from other schools while learning and having fun in cultural workshops, presentations and activities relevant to their lives. What makes this a one-of-a-kind event is that it is planned by and for Latinx youth; a team of high school students meet weekly for 8 months to plan and develop all conference elements.
Please contact Adrian Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 612-872-6165 ext. 120 if you would like more information about the event.
On May 12, 2017, 273 youth and 58 adults gathered at Augsburg College for La Oportunidad’s annual Latinx Youth Leadership Conference. The theme the Youth Planning Committee selected for this year’s conference was social action/activism. They gave the 2017 conference the title “El Pueblo Unido” (The People United). In the words of planning committee member and high school student Jennifer Meza Mendoza, the reason the youth committee chose the theme was “to emphasize the power that we as youth have. We have a voice and we can use it to create change for ourselves and others around us. We want youth to learn how to take action in their communities and know they’re not alone. We can all unite to fight discrimination, racism, and any form of injustice.”
Highlights from the day’s festivities included a powerful keynote address and spoken word performance by Denice Frohman, nationally-acclaimed award-winning poet, writer, performer and educator, along with twelve interactive workshop breakout sessions facilitated by local Latino leaders and activists (both youth and adult). Workshops topics included themes such as: speaking up and using your voice, Latino representation in the media, identity and intersectionality, Latino sheroes and heroes, social movements, how to create change, sharing your story through poetry and spoken word, activism through art and music, hip hop as a catalyst for social transformation, and reclaiming our roots for social change. Other highlights from the day’s program included dance performances by Mexica/Aztec dance and drum circle Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli and bboy crew Phaze II, as well as a dance to cap off the day’s festivities.
89% of youth participants expressed an increase in cultural pride or connection to their culture, 86% expressed an increased sense of and capacity for leadership, and 92% expressed an increase in skills, knowledge and/or positive attitudes in at least one of the following areas: self, relationships, education, and/or community. Some of the things that youth participants said they were taking away from the conference were: “to be proud of who I am”, “not to be afraid to express myself”, “our voices matter”, “knowing more about my culture”, “stand up for what we believe is right”, “leadership skills”, and “we are strongest united”.
The success of this day-long event was the result of a labor of love from the 23 members of the Youth Planning Committee. The planning committee, made up of high school Latino youth leaders and mentors, started meeting in October 2016, and met for two hours weekly over the course of eight months to plan all conference elements under the guidance and support of La Oportunidad’s Latino Youth Program Coordinator. A huge thank you to our sponsors: Augsburg College, Youthprise, East Minneapolis Exchange Club, McDonalds, and Mall of America! The conference would not be possible without your support.
PHOTOS of this event were posted on our Facebook page, to view them click here.
Past conference topics have included:
- 2017: El Pueblo Unido (The People United) – Theme: Social Action/Activism
- 2016: De Donde Vengo y Adonde Voy (Where I’m From and Where I’m Going)
- 2015: Express Your Identity
- 2014: Cultivating My Well-Being
- 2013: Traditions in Our Hearts, United We Thrive
- 2012: Growing Healthy Relationships Together
- 2011: Dancing with the “Sole”, Bailando con El Corazón
- 2010: Mind Opening Scenes: Artes Visuales
- 2008: Who am I? Finding Myself to Promote Peace
- 2007: Our History and Traditions: The Key to the Future
- 2006: Hip Hop: A Tool for Peace and Social Change
- 2005: Healthy Lifestyles
- 2004: An Intergenerational Dialog on Immigration