NewsCovering Colorado


Empowering Education is the mission of the African American Youth Leadership Conference

African American Youth Leadership Conference
Posted at 1:31 PM, Mar 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-09 19:40:02-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The African American Youth Leadership Conference returned on Saturday for its 31st annual seminar at Colorado College. Hundreds of students, 6th through 12 grades and their parents attended the free workshops.

Middle and high school students filled Armstrong hall as they prepared for a day full of educational sessions, fun activities, workshops, and leadership training.

“So we've been doing this since 1993. It is a conference that invites students from all over the area and it's 100% free,” Demetria Lister said.

Demetria Lister is the Public Relations officer for the African American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC).

Lister said this year they are breaking the conference into two sections. One for parents and one for students.

“So for the parents, we have a variety of panels for the day. So we have a panel about voting since it is a very important year to get registered and understand your choices. We have another panel about mental health and another one about financial wellness, in addition to a couple of others,” Lister said.

Students can check out workshop that interest them such as engineering and trades programs. One of the fan favorites is the the science experiment workshop.

“It's anything from leadership to entrepreneurship. Some of them are more in the Stem category. Some of them are about finance and budgeting, so it's a wide variety,” Lister said.

One of the students of the month, who is attending the conference is Deshaun Ellison. Deshaun is a junior at Widefield High School.

“I have never been before and I am just really excited,” Deshaun said.

He is hoping to attend the healthcare seminar.

“My dream career is to be a cardiovascular surgeon. And so I just, like, I really want to learn about health care from, like, a person of color point of view, you know, because I think I'm a person of color,” Deshaun said.

Meanwhile, Deshaun’s friend and another student of the month, Cydnee Taylor, wants to learn more about voting.

“I'm looking forward to the voter one, because I want to enrich myself and what it means to be like a voter and have that knowledge,” Cydnee said.

Cydnee is a senior at Rampart High School. She will be voting for the first time in November.

“Everything I've learned about voting has been on my own accord. But, being here today, like it's going to be my first time learning about that kind of thing, in a workshop, so it'll be beneficial,” Cydnee said.

She said students like herself will be able to learn about different careers, skills, and networking techniques that they would not typically be taught in school.

“These kinds of conferences are important because it serves, marginalized group of youth who are typically not exposed to this kind of information in regards to, like, college and stuff like that. So having these conferences are imperative to the marginalized youth just to be able to participate in voting and have knowledge in those aspects,” Cydnee said.

Lister with the conference committee said it's important to bring the community together.

“There's not a whole lot of diversity in this greater area of Colorado. And so for all these different students, it gets to connect across districts, across cities. It really does make an incredible impact on them, along with our village as well,” Lister said.

She hopes when students leave the conference, they feel empowered.

“I hope that students take new connections with them, new friends with them. I hope that they're able to learn new things,” Lister said.

The conference is one of the biggest events the AAYLC has each year, but there are other programs and events they are part of. To get connected to The African American Youth Leadership Conference or to learn more, visit their website.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.