Youth Social Justice Conference

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By Community Editor

Join the Oak Park Public Library for their first Youth Social Justice Conference.Saturday, Oct. 21, 10 am–4:30 pm, Main Library

In this youth-directed conference featuring a panel discussion, 5–7 breakout sessions, and an open mic, teens and adults will explore issues including restorative justice, creating empowering youth spaces through art, confronting racism through theater, and addressing microaggressions in the classroom, using culturally relevant strategies like hip-hop and call-and-response, and merging real stories with theory, research, and practice.

"We want it to be engaging and fun, very spirited, and equally welcoming to youth and adults," said Middle School Services Librarian Jose Cruz.

Updated Schedule

10-10:30am Breakfast
10:30-12:30 pm Panel/Theatrical Reading
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
1:30-2:30 pm Breakout Sessions/Workshops
2:30-4:30 pm Open Mic
 

'Revolution, solution, equity, and empathy'

The Youth Social Justice Conference is an outgrowth of the library's Social Justice Conference at the Main Library in April, which convened 12 community organizations and over 50 attendees for what one participant called "seven hours of revolution, solution, equity, and empathy." Cruz said the day helped build tighter networks across organizations, and spurred organizers and participants to start planning a second conference focused on youth.

"We came together and sketched out a strategy that included both youth and staff, requiring each to work together in committees to focus on some of the issues confronting tweens and teens locally and more broadly," he said.

Starting this summer, library staff and youth coordinators have been working together in committees to plan October's Youth Social Justice Conference. Each committee is responsible for preparing a workshop as well as organizing their own specific logistical aspect of the conference. Goals include having library staff and youth interact more, developing a youth council at the library, and encouraging youth who want to continue this type of work around the community.

Want to get involved?

Email the team at socialjustice@oppl.org. Opportunities for youth in grades 6–12 include:

  • Performing at the conference's open mic
  • Helping plan the conference by serving on committees including food, technology, decor, and outreach.

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