Lake Forest – Lake Bluff 8th Graders Speak Up At LEAD’s Youth Summit
Submitted by LEAD
The 8th Grade Youth Summit, sponsored by LEAD and the Speak UP! Prevention Coalition, took place on Tuesday, 9/17/13, at CROYA. The summit was attended by 93 students from four local middle schools: Deerpath Middle School, Lake Bluff Middle School, Montessori School of Lake Forest, and School of St. Mary. Ty Sells, from Youth to Youth International, facilitated the students through discussions about challenges and blessings of being an 8th grade student in the Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood communities
The purpose of the summit was to create an opportunity for students to talk and adults to listen. We learned students have a lot to say about what they experience in their daily lives at school and home. The students identified six specific issues that challenge them in their lives: School Stress, Social/Peer Pressure, the LB/LF “Bubble”, Bullying, Family Drama, and Need for Alterative Activities.
Ty Sells set the tone for the students to share their opinions and experiences in a safe and accepting environment. Fifteen adult facilitators then worked with the students in small groups to brainstorm challenges and possible solutions.
Students were asked to complete a survey at the end of day. Students reported feeling heard by the adults and appreciative of the opportunity to share. One student commented, “I have wanted to talk to adults about some of these issues but didn’t know how to. It was great to have an opportunity to talk about what has been on my mind.” Other students made the following comments:
“It helped me think and realize things.”
“A positive aspect of the Youth Summit is the kids can say what they think are problems.”
“It helps teens speak what they feel like.”
“Getting to share our opinions and stories is very positive”
“It inspires me to do better things outside of school.”
An evening Community Forum was held to provide an opportunity for students to share with the community the stresses, challenges and solutions that were identified during the day. The forum was attended by more than 50 parents, school social workers and administrators, law enforcement, local elected officials, and civic leaders.
Social workers and administrators from each of the middle schools committed to continuing to work with students to implement some of the proposed solutions. Each school will offer the students continued opportunities to meet during the school year.
This is the third annual youth summit hosted by the Speak UP! Prevention Coalition and LEAD. “It was wonderful to, once again, have a group of enthusiastic students who are eager to be part of shaping and changing their communities,” said Andy Duran, Executive Director LEAD and Speak UP.