Case Study: LPAC’s Student Leadership Conference
20/20’s Student Leadership component seems to cause the most angst among grassroots partners. Not because they disagree with the idea that students should be empowered as leaders, but because what that actually looks like is difficult to imagine. For so long, schools have treated students as customers buying a product from teachers, not as co-investors in their own lives.
In September 2009, 20/20 partnered with Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Bronx to produce “Kickin’ It Old Skool” – the first student leadership conference actually led by students in collective memory. Most “student leadership” events involve adults teaching students, or adults teaching other adults how to lead students. Never in the experience of the producers had adults voluntarily played a supporting role to students leading the event.
Twelve student organizers from four boroughs were charged with designing a conference they and other students would actually lead, armed with a budget to actually pull it off. Sixty-five of their peers gathered for the conference at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, and 175 enjoyed the evening concert as well.
In May 2010, those same empowered Kickin’ It students organized “I Am My School,” a student-led service initiative of neighborhood school districts all over the city. The May pilot featured eight campaigns and included a dozen schools. They are working with New York City Leadership Center and others to expand I Am My School with the goal of serving in 25 schools in 2011.
Student Leadership: Possible!
Kickin’ It Old Skool was featured at the Reload 1.2.3 Youth Ministry conference in 2010 during the “Student-Led Student Ministry: Pipe Dream or Possible?” workshop. The workshop featured four of the Kickin’ It student organizers as experts on what student-led change looks like and how to achieve it. The workshop description follows.
It’s trendy for youth ministers to say, “Youth ministry is not about ministering to youth, but about empowering youth to minister,” but what does youth-led youth ministry actually look like? Experience youth ministry by young people as NYC students discuss recent student-led ministry models including God Belongs in My City, Kickin’ It Old Skool, Generation Xcel, and World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Project.