Youth as Change Agents (November 2016)
By YEB Member, East Ridge High School
The 2016-2017 Youth Executive Board (YEB) began meeting at the beginning of September. Thirty-three students from nine districts meet weekly at the Equity Alliance MN offices to learn about how they can change systems. The program focuses on cultural and racial understanding, educational equity, team building, and leadership.
Service-learning projects were introduced to the students at YEB’s annual Overnight Retreat, and students also explored subjects such as the achievement gap and the White Racial Frame. The three day retreat was held during MEA weekend at Camp One Heartland in Willow River, MN. The retreat allowed students to make connections of current events around the world, and to also create connections with other YEB members. They participated in activities like deep listening, which was led by YEB’s Facilitation Team member. Students were guided in prompts were they had to really listen to one another, the prompts had students exercise their full and undivided attention on what their partner was sharing, to listen and not respond.
Students also explored individual leadership styles, in activity called leadership compass, led by YEB’s co-chairs. Each member was able to identify themselves in a leadership style, and had to collaboratively exercise their skills in a group challenge. They were tasked with building a freestanding tower out of limited supplies and were tested on whether or not their tower could support a cup of water. This activity allowed the members to reflect on how they work best in a group, which would help them not only in YEB, but also for future jobs and school projects. On the last day of the overnight, YEB began planning their own service learning projects for the year.
This year, YEB will be creatively showcasing and selling rainwater barrels as part of our ME to WE service learning project to raise awareness about limited water access. The group began planning their marketing styles after they experienced what it was like to carry jugs of water for long distances. This year’s plan also includes illustrating and writing the next series of children’s books. The members of this year’s Youth Executive Board looks forward to working in the community to bring forth what they want to see in the world.