Power of One
In all my time with The Mockingbird Society, I have participated in six Youth Leadership Summits. Summit is the time and place where Mockingbird chapter members from all seven regions present the proposals they’ve been working on for months to the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. This year, for the first time ever, the chapters also presented to the state Office of Homeless Youth Advisory Committee. It’s an important event for Mockingbird and it’s also an important opportunity for youth to hone their leadership skills through direct advocacy.
Mockingbird and it’s also an important opportunity for youth to hone their leadership skills through direct advocacy.
Thinking back through all of my years attending the Summit, this year was the most extraordinary because it is my first year attending as one of Seattle’s Chapter Leaders. In my work with Mockingbird, I have been given the opportunity to meet so many powerful people and share my voice and experiences. Summit is a place where networks are created between youth and the people who make decisions about the systems that impact us now, or have impacted us in the past.
Although Mockingbird has had a lot of transition this year, we were as strong as ever and Summit demonstrated this in an amazing way. Each chapter’s proposal came a long way on the road to Summit. Despite all the preparation our chapters go through before the event, participants were put through even more preparation in the Systems Reform Workshop on the first day of Summit. In this workshop, each chapter presents to panels of informed advisors and receives feedback. This feedback is not only important for the group, but also for the individual chapter members as they keep working on their leadership and advocacy skills.
When I first attended Summit, I was intimidated. I was 14 years old and had just entered the foster care system. Sometimes entering foster care can leave youth with a sense of disempowerment and loneliness. But through my work with Mockingbird, changing perceptions that stand in the way of every child having a safe and stable home, I grew. The Systems Reform Workshop played an important role in allowing this growth to occur. Because of my Summit experiences, I gained confidence and felt empowered to use my story to promote change instead of dwelling on it. Every time I give our presentation, I feel important. The fact that adults care about our ideas and want to listen to us was and is the most significant part of Summit. On the day of the presentation, the number of people that showed up was astounding and truly shows how important this event is to the community as well as to us, youth impacted by foster care and homelessness.
Summit supports foster youth to realize their stories can be used as powerful forces for change. It proves not only that our past doesn’t have to define us, but that it can fuel us. Mockingbird arranges Summit in a way that promotes youth voice and leadership. Furthermore, The Mockingbird Society as a whole creates a place for foster and homeless youth to come and be a part of a community that knows what they’ve been through. Summit brings us together to enact change, but more importantly, it allows us to find family in intimidating systems and use our experiences to help amend injustice and inequality.
Thank you, Mockingbird!
For a complete list of the Summit topics, please visit: Youth Leadership Summit