Saturday, we opened up with a speech from our keynote speaker, Nancy Metayer, City Commissioner of Coral Gables, and the first Black and Haitian-American woman Commissioner in the city’s history. She explained the importance of our youth being engaged in democracy, the need to understand the role they play in environmental justice, and the need to continue to organize, despite the oppressive realities that they may face under the new House Bill 1; a bill that has been criticized for being racist, anti-free-speech, and anti-local governance. Afterward, we dived into workshops focused on three of the overarching themes of the weekend and of our DeFY Youth program: civic engagement, environment & justice, and life skills. These workshops created a space for our youth and organizations to actively engage one another and allow youth to talk about building a future Florida they want to live in. It was truly a beautiful exchange of ideas and affirmed that a brighter future is possible.
We would like to thank the organizations who partnered with us to make this weekend a reality for the youth of Miami – often one of the most overlooked groups of people in our state. Being able to spend time with these amazing young minds further solidified the need for our program and programs like ours, and that investing in the growth of these young minds is not only important for the future of our democracy, but that it is important for the future of Florida that they will get to build.