“I never want to be a stagnant person. I think you begin to fester when you stop growing — and I do not want to be the human equivalent of moldy Tupperware.” -Chloe Dittloff
This month at Empower Montana has reminded us all of the power of leaders who are younger than us. One of our highest held values is to honor, validate, and empower young people to create the change they want to see…right now! Here’s a bit about our month doing some of our favorite work with some of our favorite leaders.
Top 5 Favorite Moments of EmpowerMT’s High School Leadership Camp!
The last weekend of July EmpowerMT hosted our favorite event of the year. We traveled to Camp Paxson on Seeley Lake to train high school students from Montana in our curriculum to build safer and more inclusive schools. Camp is known for it’s bonding, silly theatrics, tears of empathy, and new friendships. Here are some of our favorite moments from this years camp (in no particular order).1. The Faux Fire Camp Ceremony
For the first year in ten years of camp we couldn’t have our traditional fire ceremony but we made do with a lot of flashlights, lanterns, bike lights, and LED candles (thanks Warren Michelson, Mija, and others!).
2. Extraordinary Cabin Songs (and dances)
Every year the camp songs amaze us and this year was no different! Special shout outs to the boys of cabins five and six for a choreographed dance to Thriller! Another shout out to the folks of cabin eight for a transformative take on the story of Peter Pan with extra props to Mija’s rendition of Captain Hook!
3. Small Group Time
For introverts and extroverts alike, small group time is one of the best times to delve deeper into conversation about oppression and allyship. This year we got to spend even more time in our cozy groups and explore experiences of oppression of different groups (people of color, incarcerated people, non-binary people, and more!).
4. Connecting Over Stories of Mistreatment
We place some of our strongest hope in the power of personal story sharing. Whether through speak-outs, small group time, or at our campfire ceremony, the stories we share and witness at camp often impact us for a lifetime. This year two brave teens shared incredibly difficult and inspiring stories of mistreatment to the large group. Sharing and hearing such emotionally charged stories is certainly difficult, yet it is a powerful tool to bring people together and better understand the effects of oppression and mistreatment of other groups. We are so grateful to all of our story tellers this year!
5. Violence Barometer and Privilege Line
These two fan favorite activities were a hit again this year. We explored our different views of violence with the Violence Barometer and witnessed the intersectionality of privilege and how it effects us with the Privilege Line.
Thanks to all who contributed to another fantastic year of camp!
Jessica Beers Featured in National Youth Organizing Campaign!
The Youth Organizing Goes Further Campaign is a series of feature stories centered on top change-makers from across the country as a way to share the importance and impact of youth organizing. We couldn’t be more proud of this amazing leader! Read Jessica’s feature story here!
EmpowerMT is excited to announce that we will be holding an Advanced Leadership Training September 8th & 9th from 9am to 4pm each day at the Missoula Federal Credit Union’s Training Center (3600 Brooks St., Missoula, MT).
The Advanced Leadership Training is an intensive workshop that teaches participants skills necessary for providing influential leadership in ending discrimination, reducing intergroup conflict, and building inclusive communities and organizations. This training is an excellent professional development opportunity as well as being the first step in becoming an official EmpowerMT volunteer trainer. For more information visit our website. EPIC After School Clubs Starting September!
EmpowerMT staff is gearing up for one of our favorite youth programs- Empowering People Inspiring Change aka EPIC. In EPIC, students have a place to be themselves without judgement and grow as leaders. In EPIC, students will learn, teach, and problem solve around issues of mistreatment in our schools and community.EPIC is offered after school starting September 26th at Hawthorne and Lowell Elementary as well as Washington, C.S. Porter, and Meadow Hill Middle Schools. For more information visit our website or contact Claire Michelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News of Interest
Eight Year Old Boy has Passion for Drag
An eight-year-old drag queen is taking the scene by storm after discovering the practice at the age of seven.
Montreal mini queen Nemis Quinn Mélançon Golden has been catching the eyes of drag artists across the globe since his alter-ego Lactatia appeared onstage with Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Bianca del Rio on her Werq the World drag tour earlier this summer.
EPIC is a youth leadership club offered after school for middle school-age youth. EPIC has been empowering young leaders in the Missoula community since 2003! The EPIC program seeks to break isolation and build allies across group lines, understand the causes of oppression, strengthen the connection to school through mentorships, and increase skills & confidence in diffusing conflict. Epic meets each Tuesday afternoon from 4-5 pm.
Youth Forward is a weekly group for LGBTQ+, Two Spirit, & gender diverse youth to connect with peers, discuss issues relevant to their lives, explore identity, and learn more about the ever-expanding LGBTQ+, Two Spirit, & gender diverse community and how other identities intersect. (Be You Crew is a mentorship opportunity for youth, ages 9-13, to join Youth Forward on the last Wednesday of each month. Be You Crew was formed after recognizing the need for a space where elementary and middle school-aged youth can explore gender identity and sexual orientation and develop allyship skills.)
EmpowerMT is committed to developing youth leaders and values creating an authentic representation of our constituencies at all levels of the organization. In order to achieve these objectives, EmpowerMT created YAC. EmpowerMT staff, youth, & volunteers select outstanding youth from all of EmpowerMT’s programs with diverse backgrounds and experiences to create the perfect team each year. YAC serves as liaisons between EmpowerMT youth programs and the Board of directors.