By Bill Parry
Queens Community House is gearing up for one of its biggest events of the year. Registration is underway for the 18th annual Youth Leadership Conference set for Saturday, May 20.
The event, which draws hundreds of youngsters and their families each year, is open to all youth who want to learn from an array of different workshops.
Participants from QCH’s Access For Young Women program host the event and coordinate its agenda, while program participants from various teen programs are involved in planning and presenting the conference’s workshops. AFYW provides training in public speaking, assertive communication, goal setting, and critical thinking for women ages 12 to 18.
For the Youth Leadership Conference, the participants are trained to develop and lead their own workshops. The young women work in small groups, choose their topic, research and facilitate the learning sessions.
“I tell them to pick a topic that is dear to them, one for which they have strong conviction or want change to happen,” AFYW Director Tabitha Gamonski said. “One group, for example, noticed an inequity in their school’s gym classes. Boys were playing soccer and basketball while the girls were allowed to opt out or do ‘girly’ activities. When conference planning came around, these girls wanted to bring attention to the issue, but also to inspire other young people to speak up for themselves when they felt they were being treated unfairly. That’s one of our goals of this conference.”
The concept behind the conference is that teens go to school five days a week to learn from adults who are older and wiser, but this conference gives them a chance to learn from each other. Gamonski believes the year-after-year success of the conference stems from allowing the participants to chose the topic and format their workshop.
“More than 50 of our participants will be leading workshops,” she said. “The conference has become a ‘must-see’ big event of the year.”
To register for the 18th Annual Youth Leadership Conference at Queens Community House’s Forest Hills Community Center, located at 108-25 62nd Drive, contact Gamonski at tgamo
Queens Community House, founded in 1975, is a multi-service settlement house serving more than 20,000 children, youths, adults and seniors each year. Their mission is to provide individuals and families with the tools to enrich their lives and build healthy, inclusive communities.
Through a broad network of programs operating out of 25 sites in 11 neighborhoods, QCH offers Queens residents a needed support system at every stage of life, helping them to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to change their lives for the better and become active participants in their larger community.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr