Being part of the Youth Forum for the National Mentoring Symposium in Banff was full of unexpected surprises and learnings. From keynote speakers, talking about the science behind child development, the impacts of colonialism, and authentic leadership, to discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly with my fellow Youth Forum team, you could feel the ripples being made, moment by moment.
I could write forever about all the things that I learned, and all the inspiring people I got the chance to meet, but after reflecting on my time in Banff, one thing stuck out to me. Youth know what’s up. Youth are intelligent, resilient, innovative and capable.
As the Youth Forum, we attended the conference as any other attendees would. However, on top of attending keynotes, break-out sessions, and networking meals, on the last day of the conference, we WERE the keynote. This was our opportunity, as youth, to tell the attendees our perspectives, remind them of the importance of having youth at the table, and to share with them the work that we do.
Our keynote consisted of a moving spoken word piece, I am enough, a challenge for the attendees to reflect on their passions and why they are in this field of work, stories that would move you to tears, and constant reminders that youth are actively working to make the world a more welcoming and supportive place. We showed the attendees that youth are engaged, that we care, that we are in this, and that we are enough. We challenged them to make sure that they are always including the voices of youth, listening to our ideas, our truths, and our needs.
My fellow participants were full of so much wisdom. We constantly challenged and supported each other, and never failed to make sure everyone felt like they belonged. We helped to lift each other up, to motivate each other, and reminded each other that we are powerful, that our voices matter, and that our desired future will become a reality.
You could see the ripples being made.
So, to all my Youth Forum participants, thank you. Do the work you need to do. Stay grounded, learn, unlearn and relearn, be who you are, be courageous, and if you only help yourself, that is enough.
- S xo