Youth summit set for Nov. 23

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.

Alachua County middle and high school students will get a chance to learn about bullying, college access and race relations at the 2nd annual Youth Diversity Summit sponsored by the city of Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity.



* What: The 2nd annual Youth Diversity Summit, with discussions on race, bullying and college access.

* When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 23.

* Where: Ignite Life Center, 404 NW 14th Ave.

* Phone: Call 352-334-5051.

It will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 23 at Ignite Life Center at 404 NW 14th Ave. Students are asked to register by 5 p.m. Nov. 21 by calling Sue DeBose at 352-334-5051. Students who attend the summit without registering might not get a summit T-shirt or formal name tag. A light breakfast and lunch will be served.

The theme will be "Why Can't We Be Friends," and Cecil Howard, director of the OEO, said the summit will end with students making a video with the theme as the title. The theme is taken from the title of the hit song, "Why Can't We be Friends," which was recorded in 1974 by the band War.

Howard said the summit is being held to address the issues of discrimination, exclusion, tolerance and inclusion, and he said the college access part of the summit will hopefully get students excited about going to college.

"Our hope is to work with the young people and impose the values of respect, friendliness and inclusion in them because they are the leaders of tomorrow," said Howard, adding that the summit is also being held to alleviate some of the problems of racism, bullying and exclusion that "we see from time to time."

Howard said the sessions and leaders will be:

Bullying: Led by Lauren Hannah of the University of Florida Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs.

College access: Led by Dr. Diane Archer-Banks of Gainesville-based Life Educators.

Race relations: Led by Shelton Davis, a retired Alachua County educator and member of the OEO Dismantling Racism Change Team. Davis led the race relations sessions last year by viewing, analyzing and discussing a video of two former Gainesville High School female students talking disparagingly about black students. Davis said he is in the process of trying to identify a current news event that illustrates racial inequities so he can analyze and discuss it with students at the summit.

"I am looking forward to participating in the summit again this year," Davis said

Howard said it is hoped students will leave the summit with lesser or no prejudices about people who are different from them. He said young people, like older people, oftentimes dislike others for no other reason than they are different. He said he would like students to look inside themselves and ask the question posed more than 20 years ago by Los Angeles police beating victim Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along." He also said he hopes that asking the question will lead to a broader discussion.

"We would like to see a dialogue begin with students talking about diversity and inclusion and the importance of being able to respect others who have different sexual orientations, nationalities and live in different neighborhoods."

The summit is being co-sponsored by Educational Access Institute, a non-profit organization based in Gainesville, Ignite Life Center and Santa Fe College.

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