YAPA Annual Youth Summit

Every year, Young Adults for Positive Action hosts a youth summit for high school students. The conference theme this year was: “Pathway to Victory.” Over 400 student participated in this summit on January 15, 2016. Topics for the Youth Summit were aligned to the Operation: Moving Forward Recommendations Report. Below are the outcomes from our Pathway to Victory 2016 Youth Summit.

Whole Community Celebration

Students in the Far Northeast Community recognize that the high volume of schools in the area lead to a sense of disconnectedness with the community. However, they want to find ways for youth and families to come together in positive ways. They not only want to have pep rallies and homecomings with a common goal, they also would like ways for students from different schools to volunteer together. Students expressed the need for more community events—such as a Barbecue, the annual Big Do, or Movies in GVR—that are celebrated with families.

More Support Services and Resources for Students and Families

Currently, students in Far Northeast Denver do not see wraparound support options in the community. The only place they know to receive help is through the Boys and Girls Club. They would like to know how to find more support services in the community and for social-emotional support to be more readily available in schools. Additionally, they would like additional sports and music opportunities in the Far Northeast Community, as well as extended day options for students with different interests.

Culturally Responsive School Environments

Many students feel hopeless in the face of discrimination. They specifically pointed out discrimination based on: sexuality, gender, race, and linguistic diversity. In classrooms, students feel as if their voices are not heard and that they are disrespected and undervalued. They appreciate educators who are able to connect to students’ unique cultural needs and to guide them through expectations in the classroom. Students want to learn more about their cultural history in the classroom and to be given the opportunity contribute their unique cultural backgrounds in conversations surrounding learning. Additionally, they expressed the need for more linguistic support for students whose first language isn’t English.

Rigorous Classrooms, as well as Classes to Reflect Real-World Issues

Students feel as if they are given lower standards for excellence based on the color of their skin. However, they want to be part of high expectation classrooms in order to showcase that they are capable to meet and exceed rigorous standards. They want the district to offer more concurrent placement courses in high school, which will increase their chances of succeeding in college. Finally, students would like a required class during the school day that addresses real world issues such as: conflict management, financial management, job skills, social skills, and stress management. Rigorous classrooms, coupled with real world skill training, would help them feel better prepared for college and career opportunities.

We invite you to continue in this conversation with us, as you review the Operation: Moving Forward Recommendations Report (linked here). Thank you to all those who have joined with us in supporting our schools, families, and students.