This morning, November 6th, was our first BFS Community Issues Conference. The goal for the morning was for upper school students to learn about significant local community issues, to participate in collaborative problem solving, and to identify ways they, as young people, can support constructive change in the community.
Students in the 10th Grade Service & Justice seminar helped to design the conference poster, identify authentic community needs, and research community partners. After powerful opening remarks from Saundra Thomas, each Upper Schooler attended three workshops focused on disaster relief, education, elders, the environment, immigration, LGBTQ rights, racial profiling, police brutality, police accountability, and special needs.
We met representatives from local organizations including the Arab American Family Support Center, Audre Lorde Project, Brooklyn Autism Center, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Heights and Hills, Horizons Leadership Project, Immigration Equality, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, & St. Bernard Project. Students discussed ways we can help to address the underlying causes of the issues they face. In between each session, students met with their advisory groups to share experiences with peers and select their next workshops.
The day generated interest, curiosity, understanding, and an incentive to become involved and take action! As 10th grade student Naomi M. reflected:
“Being a part of Brooklyn Friends School’s first Community Issues Conference was a positive experience. I found that I learned a lot from the various workshops I attended. I was also responsible for introducing the guests of one of the workshops focusing on immigration issues particularly for members of the LGBTQ community. It was interesting because I was able to meet the speakers and interact with them on a personal level as well as learn a lot from their experiences in their field…I did learn a lot from the workshops and I am glad to have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to engage in this meaningful service learning at school in a space where I feel comfortable discussing certain things. I am looking forward to the next community issues conference at Brooklyn Friends School and I feel that the very first one was a success!”
|poster by Hildi G, Class of 2017|