Most of Sunday's agenda involved workshops where the delegates deepened their knowledge of advocacy. They included titles such as "Creative Activism," "Raise Your Hand," "The Power of the Youth Voice," "Environmental Justice," and "Jesus the Troublemaker."
"I find it hard to talk about advocacy without talking about Jesus," said Matt Belgie in the Jesus the Troublemaker workshop he led. In the first exercise, he had people write down some of the images of Jesus portrayed in the media. Words such as white, wimpy, and weak came up repeatedly. Then groups watched video clips of scripture portraying Jesus. His point? The Jesus in scripture is much stronger, much more powerful, and much more of an advocate for the oppressed than he has been portrayed in the media. He spoke out and protected the oppressed.
Creative Activism explored ways to set up an attention-grabbing campaign to raise awareness of issues. This was the one workshop that asked the delegates to remain with their teams so that they could formulate their ideas for their communities. Teams built their campaigns around the policy recommendations they plan to present on Capitol Hill. The Environmental Justice workshop raised the question, "Are environmental concerns an advocacy issue?" Most definitely!
Raise Your Hand — a workshop on techniques for gathering data — was a unique program because it was taught by a team of young people who attended the 2007 Youth Empowerment Summit. The Youth Evaluation Team was assembled to look over last year's participant evaluation forms and make recommendations on how to improve this year's Summit. "I've learned that evaluation is a lot tougher than it seems," laughs Samuel Everett, who says that he hopes the size of the team increases next year. He also hopes to "get different youth in there because they provide different experiences that will only make [the program] stronger."
Stephanie Villarreal from Chicago found Juan Pacheco's workshop, The Power of the Youth Voice, especially powerful. "He really inspired me," she says. "I actually felt like I could make a difference. It's up to us to make this change."
Juan Pacheco, a former gang member who now works with young people in that same community, provides a powerful visual to his message by beginning wearing "colors" often associated with gang members. He ends wearing medical scrubs and a doctor's coat to represent his future. Juan's urged the delegates, "Don't be afraid to go back to that 'hood [their community]. That world needs you."
Monday's schedule will present the delegates with the week's first trip of two to Capitol Hill. That will be followed by a museum tour and night tour of the Washington monuments.Posted by Larry Short on behalf of Laura Reinhardt in Washington D.C. Laura is Assignment Editor for World Vision in the United States and is currently on assignment at the Youth Empowerment Summit.