Humanities Amped held two events last month that elevated youth voice, civic engagement, and human connections: the 2019 Fall Student Conference and the inaugural Dreamkeepers College Access Retreat.
This fall, 84% of Humanities Amped high school seniors told us that they feel anxious and uncertain about life after high school. We reached out to BRCC, Southern, and LSU for support and came up with a plan: Dreamkeepers College Access Initiative. With the generous partnership of LSU’s Pre-Scholars Academy, LSU Admissions, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, we brought together Humanities Amped Seniors on November 2nd at the McKinley Alumni Center for a day of workshops, guest speakers, and panelists. Towards the end of the day, seniors were matched with a college student from LSU’s Pre-Scholars Academy, most of whom are first generation college students. These near-peer mentors will meet with Humanities Amped Seniors throughout the year to support them through the college application process. Our ultimate goal is 100% college admissions for the Dreamkeepers.
Former NBA player, McKinley alumnus, and LSU student Tyrus Thomas kicked off the day speaking to students. He told the students that when he was their age he "wanted something like this, something that could not only advance me, but could advance my peers.” Indeed, Tyrus understands that inclusion is a core value framing the Dreamkeepers initiative. We believe that college should not just be accessible for “some people,” but rather for anyone with a dream who is willing to show up and work to achieve that dream.
2019 Fall Conference
On October 24 and 25, Humanities Amped hosted over 500 students at our annual fall student conference. Students and teachers gathered at the LSU Student Union to engage with community change agents, academics, and each other in presentations, workshops, and dialogues connected to youth development, restorative practices, and research-based action projects, all fundamental elements of the Humanities Amped approach.
The first day of the conference, “Amplifying Healing Justice,” featured two guest speakers, Baba Erwin Ifasanmi Thomas, an actor, poet, and restorative practices expert, and Tonja Myles, a trauma-awareness speaker, veteran, peer specialist, and advocate. In addition to opening and closing remarks, Thomas led a session on the anatomy of restorative circles and their potential to build relationships and develop courage. Myles led a workshop “Yes, I Am in My Feelings,” centering self awareness and emotional intelligence, and delivered an empowering message in the plenary session in response to a poem presentation by Donney Rose.
Michael “Quess?” Moore, New Orleans-based poet, educator, actor, playwright, and activist, joined the conference for day two, “Amplifying Research & Action.” His “Turn Up the Volume” workshop focused on using theater to dismantle systemic inequality, using Take ‘Em Down NOLA’s successful work to remove white supremacist monuments as an example. Students attended other presentations by scholar activists on topics ranging from global citizenship to sustainability. Dr. Jose Aviles, LSU Vice President of Enrollment, presented to students about diversity, access, and equity in college, highlighting that college readiness cannot be reduced to a single test score. Additional workshops and dialogues across the two days of the conference were led by volunteer partners from Capital Area Human Services, Sexual Trauma Awareness Response (STAR), Children’s Advocacy Center, 821 Project, Serve Louisiana, Dialogue on Race, Humanities Amped teachers & alumni, Forward Arts staff, graduate students, and community leaders. Through this massive community effort, Humanities Amped students are now ready to begin preparing for the upcoming April 2020 conference, where the presentations will be 100% youth led.
These exciting opportunities are available to our students through the dedication of our partners and supporters. If you would like to join us in amplifying student voice, civic engagement, and human connections, please visit our website's "Get Involved" tab to become a volunteer or the "Support" tab to make a donation.
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