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2016 Latin@ Youth Conference – Be the Change: Once United, Never Divided

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Nallely Castro Montoya, Youth Initiatives Specialist

Up until February 27th Casa de Esperanza’s staff, mentors and Youth Amig@s will find themselves running around to put together the final touches to our 4th Annual Latin@ Youth Conference. As Youth Initiatives Specialist at Casa de Esperanza, I have seen a great need for resources for our Latin@ youth. Often there are many resources, but those resources are limited and restricted to youth who live in a certain area and/or go to a certain school. This is one of the reasons our youth believe it is important to reach out to youth who don’t live in St. Paul or Minneapolis. This conference is important to our staff and youth because it’s a way for youth to speak their minds and tell us what they want to learn, rather than what we want to teach them. Our conference is and has always been youth led. If our youth are not the ones directly presenting about issues that they care about, they are picking the topics that they believe need to be discussed. This year our youth have had a strong voice in letting us know that there is a high demand for workshops regarding Suicide Prevention & Self Harm and information about our LGBT community. Without our youth, staff, mentors and donations from other organizations, we would not be able to provide a free full day conference for Latin@ youth.

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Some Thoughts from our Youth:

For the past two years I have had the pleasure of working with three amazing young ladies who have worked hard since the day they joined our youth program. This is what they had to say about our youth program and our conference this year.

Adriana– “The conference is important because we want to build healthy relationships and I want to spread the message of building healthy relationships. I feel great to be a part of a conference with Latinos because I feel united. I like being with people who speak Spanish and also be able to have fun and meet people.”

Alma- “The conference is important to spread what we learned in this group to others, and it may help them through things they’re struggling with. We’re a unique program by teaching other Latino youth about things that could help them in the future, for example unhealthy relationships and healthy relationships. I liked being able to have and think of our own topics like we did last year but this year I like that we see other presentations. I think we are doing well but, at moments our school work is interrupting our conference work.  The conference also is a great way to build confidence for the skill of speaking, which could help us in future school work.  Also the conference is teaching us leadership skills by having us teach others.”

Lilibeth- “The conference is important because Latinos can learn more about healthy and unhealthy relationships and suicide prevention and LGBT rights. It’s teaching us how to balance time with school work and this conference. It was easier for me because I did this last year. There isn’t a lot of conferences for Latin@s in general so it’s fun to be a part of this. Casa de Esperanza is different because it seems as though we’re closer and more united.”

To learn more about the conference and sign up, click here!

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