EMU to host third annual “Youth Driven Spaces” Conference

By Mark Morgan / EMU

YPSILANTI – On Jan. 11, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Michigan University will host youth-serving organizations and high schools from around southeast Michigan for the third annual “Youth Driven Spaces” Conference. The one-day event will take place at the EMU Student Center, located at 900 Oakwood St. in Ypsilanti.

The conference is hosted by Neutral Zone, a diverse, youth-driven art and leadership center headquartered in Ann Arbor, and co-sponsored by Engage@EMU, EMU’s primary entry way to enhance, navigate and cultivate collaboration and partnerships between the University and business and community entities. The cost to attend the conference is $15 for adults and $5 for youth, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch.

According to a press release from the Neutral Zone, the event includes networking, professional development, and dialogue – all focused on issues and work “driven” by youth. What is unique about the gathering is that breakout sessions are led by youth presenting on projects and initiatives that they are leading with their peers in their communities.

Developed and disseminated by the Neutral Zone, the “youth driven spaces” approach is based on a simple concept which is that young people’s ideas, interests, and passions drive program content. In a youth driven space, young people are provided responsibilities to participate in organizational and governance roles, those typically held by adults, to provide them authentic opportunities to support the mission of their agency or school. Research demonstrates that providing youth greater voice and leadership in the programs that serve them has many benefits. When youth have opportunities to make meaningful contributions in an organization their participation grows, as does their engagement, interest, and investment. A greater leadership role provides young people with new opportunities to develop 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical reflection that are essential to college and workforce readiness. Finally, communities benefit when youth are engaged in meaningful decisions by fostering a civil society whose youth are civically engaged and who are prepared to be active citizens in a democratic society.

The conference is generously supported by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. For more information or to register for the conference, contact one of the program planners by e-mail: John Weiss: weiss@neutral-zone.org; Noran Alsabahi noran@neutral-zone.org; or Jamie Chiu jamie@neutral-zone.org.

Interested in viewing highlights from the first year’s conference? Check out the video on YouTube.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.