By Malyk Johnson – 12th Grade, Allderdice High School
On Saturday, November 7th at Carnegie Mellon’s Nelson Simmons Hall, the Media Empowerment Student Summit took place. At the event, students and organizations that support youth gave talks and had booths around the main lobby. The icebreaker in the morning revolved around everyone being given a super power. Their task was to find the others who were given the same super power and come up with their own superhero team name, and what type of crime they would fight. For example, a group who was assigned the power to shape shift came up with the idea of fighting terrorism. Afterwards, I talked to one of the people facilitating the event who introduced herself as Jenny. When asked about the purpose of the icebreaker she replied, “It’s designed to get everyone talking to new people and get creative juices flowing.”
Before dismissing the students to their first talk, Jenny asked the students to tweet about attending the event. Commenting on her request, she said, “She wants to show people they can be an activist on social media.” She defined an activist as “Anyone who is a positive member of a community whether that be making a change or finding out new information.”
The first talk of the day was lead by staff educator Jon Bindley and fellow Youth Express member Chanessa Schuler. During the talk, they discussed Youth Express and it’s goals saying “ideal Youth Express is a studio in every school in the city and some outside the city.” The attendees listened to a few examples of Youth Expresses work including a poem read at Perry High School’s city of asylum. At the end of the talk attendees recorded a piece each talking about their childhood. The recording was produced by students in the room.
Next, a few students were invited to discuss topics such as health care and social media. Each presenter was given roughly ten minutes.
Running concurrently to both morning presentations was a presentation about the school to prison pipeline. Khalil, a student who attended, thought it was really helpful to understand the African American situation. Khalil has been to three or four similar talks and praised this one due to it’s more conversational nature. After that, the children were fed lunch.
This was only half the day dedicated to youth in the city of Pittsburgh.
Malyk Johnson will be a senior at Allderdice High School this coming year where he writes for the school newspaper. He enjoys playing video games and listening to podcasts.