Activist club encourages student involvement at Youth Peace Conference

Hosted and planned by Blake’s Youth Advocating for Change (YAC) club, the Youth Peace Conference April 6 seeks to give students a clear perspective on the importance of student activism through discussion.

The theme of the conference will be ‘Student Activism: Past and Present’ which will be addressed by and centered around the keynote speaker SMOB Ananya Tadikonda. “[I’m] looking forward to seeing all these people come with their interest in activism,” says junior and YAC President Logan Delavan-Hoover.

Delavan-Hoover has attended the past three youth conferences hosted at Sandy Spring Friends School. After being involved in and enjoying the previous sessions, Delavan-Hoover decided to offer Blake’s campus as the conference’s new venue.

The conference will be held from 9am to 3pm in the amphitheater. The day will include icebreaker activities where attendees will get to commune and introduce themselves, receive free lunch, and conversational workshops where students will break up into groups and hear messages prepared by guest speakers such as leaders of Females Achieving and Maintaining Excellence (FAME), Minority Scholars Program (MSP), and other clubs.

Junior Bridget Byrne expresses excitement over the unity of youth willing to learn activism skill and different methods to get involved in change besides protests. Byrne says, “I’m excited because, hopefully, there’ll be a bunch of different people I’ve never met before from other high schools.” she adds. “Hopefully people [get to] learn something.”

The conference is open to students from all over the county and those interested in attending are advised to register at youthpeaceconferencemd.org.

In addition to the excitement around planning the conference, members have expressed enjoyment for being a part of a club that encourages hands-on experience in student activism. Junior Daniel West says, “I feel like we’re really making progress towards our goal . . . especially since the youth conference is coming up in [almost] a month.”

Delavan-Hoover initially created YAC for the purpose of hosting the Youth Peace Conference but then realized that students could use the club as a means to execute social justice projects as well. Some of the issues that YAC members are interested in include aiding undocumented immigrants, studying police brutality, and developing an ethnicity gala.

Junior Joel Zinkievich emphasized the importance of having safe environments in schools for students to practice activism and participate in debate about issues affecting their everyday lives. “[YAC is] a place where you can express your views and try to get them out on your own to a slightly larger stage,” adds Zinkievich.