4th Annual Teen Summit Launches With Issues and Arts

Students hugging in spotlight

The 4th annual Teen Summit

Superman first came on the scene during tough times. Ever since he’s been fighting the “never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.”

This weekend’s fourth annual Teen Summit, brought to you by Central Campus Urban Leadership (with a little help from their friends at United Way, Gateway Market, Des Moines Social Club, Drake University and Brad & Kelly Edmister) is like that – for real.

After a full day of workshops and town hall discussions at DMSC downtown on Friday, the event culminates tomorrow with public performances at the Harmon Fine Arts Center on the Drake campus. That event, headlined by award-winning poet, writer, educator and nationally renowned spoken word artist Denice Frohman, will get straight to the heart of urgent purposes like the ones Superman has always been about.

Ninety students are enrolled in the UL curriculum at Central but some 225 students from all five of the district’s home high schools registered for Teen Summit. Color them fully engaged and sometimes enraged; worried and hurried; willing and able to represent the change for which they clamor. But the prevailing mood as students assembled for opening ceremonies Friday morning was unconditional love for one another and extreme excitement for the event about to begin.

Once everyone settled into seats in the Kum & Go Theater, event co-host Jalesha Johnson from East High unleashed the first poem of the weekend and the rocket launched.

From there everyone broke into town hall discussions on the following topics: Self-love, Living in a Trump Era, Rape Culture and Black Girl Magic. The afternoon agenda consisted of these artistic workshops: Graffiti Writing, Street Art Photography, Intro to Spoken Word Poetry, Advanced Spoken Word Poetry, and Self-defense via Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Students lead the town halls; community artists lead the workshops. Everything is guided by the UL/Movement 515/RunDSM mantra that reading, writing, thinking and listening are “sacred” activities. And always, “energetic reciprocity,” the community’s powerful closed circuit of mutual support.

Saturday’s concert/rally at Drake is from 1:00-3:00 and admission is free. Donations will benefit the RunDSM Scholarship Fund.

Attendance will make you feel enlisted in that never-ending battle mentioned above. Super, in another word.

Photos from the Opening of the Teen Summit

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