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Saint Mary’s University is providing a platform for Twin Cities youth to make their voices heard—and to play a positive role in educational equity in their communities. The Graduate School of Education hosted a Youth Action Retreat for 60 students in grades 9 through 12 and college-age last Wednesday at the Saint Mary’s University Center in Minneapolis. The workshop was designed by and for youth to take action in influencing equity in education. It was an opportunity to share their voices and ideas and to gain new knowledge and skills to advocate for youth-centered and culturally responsive educational environments.

The workshop theme, “Break it Down, Build it Up,” focused on arts, movement, and mindfulness activities designed to explore, affirm, and promote healthy and equitable classroom spaces. Breakout sessions included de-escalation techniques, giving constructive feedback to educators, and building bridges.

The Youth Equity Solutions (YES!) leadership team was created out of the Missing Voices initiative and the students will help to plan the next Missing Voices: Equity in Education summit planned for Feb. 8, 2018. The Graduate School of Education and Culturally Responsive Teaching program are working to include youth action retreat activities before and after the public event so as to continue to develop and grow youth advocacy and leadership in our schools.

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