Many people begin their internships with standard orientation procedures like familiarizing yourself with your computer, the filing system, office supplies and setting up voicemail and email. Not me – I spent my first day of my United Church of Christ Social Justice Internship with SKCCH at the Coalition’s Youth and Young Adult Advocacy Summit and I could not have asked for a better introduction to this small but mighty organization.
I was extremely inspired by the 25 youth and young adults who participated in the Summit on September 10-11 and I left each day far more educated on the struggles displaced youth and young adults face because I spoke with them directly about it. It was amazing to have the opportunity to sit down with these young people and listen to the inventive solutions they came up with that could solve their daily struggles. I could not have learned all I did in those two days even if I had sat at a desk for weeks reading up on issues affecting young people who are homeless.
On day one of the Youth Summit, the participants, with support from peer leaders and service providers came up with four priorities after rounds of voting and then divided themselves into groups as to which priority they felt most passionate about. The priorities for this year were:
Each group then came up with key talking points and solutions that they wanted to present to the city council member who they would be talking to on the second day. A detailed outline of these points and solutions is below.
On the first day we also had some amazing speakers present at the summit including Josh Hicks, Jim Theofolis, Steve Daschle, Kim Jones and Nancy Amidei. These experienced advocates both inspired and taught the youth and young adults about advocacy and the importance of civic engagement. We would like to thank them for taking the time to participate in our summit. The participants were constantly referring to their advice as they prepared to speak to the Councilmembers.
The second day of the Youth Summit began with time for groups to prepare their topics and presentations for Councilmembers. Crystal Shaw, from the Human Services Department of the City of Seattle, was instrumental on this day. She oriented the youth and young adults to the City Council that morning and went above and beyond by lending support to participants and organizers throughout the day.
The groups then went up and presented to City of Seattle Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, and Sally Clark. A collective group also presented to the Human Services Department on all four priorities in the afternoon. We would like to thank all the Councilmembers involved as well as the Human Services Department for ensuring that this Summit was a very positive experience of civic engagement for the participants. Officials took the time to really listen, giving this group, who sometimes feels silenced, a voice on policy issues important to their daily life.
This Youth Summit could not have happened without the amazing time, energy, and dedication of our Youth and Young Adults Committee Co-Chairs, Melissa King from Friends of Youth and Kathleen Murphy from ROOTS Young Adult Shelter.