IGNITE takes on Denver with GALS

With the goal of igniting more political ambition into the young girls of Colorado, IGNITE teamed up with the Girls Athletic Leadership School to host the Young Women’s Political Leadership Conference (YWPLC)  in the heart of Denver.

Together, GALS and IGNITE gathered a diverse group of young women, all eager to discover their abilities and learn how to embed them into the world. While most conferences find a similarity in age group, the YWPLC  consisted of all ages of ambition, ranging from middle school girls to college women.

"I was made to run a chapter of IGNITE. Their mission is one I identify with greatly. This is my first chance to truly impact other people to make a difference and specifically, to encourage other young women to go into politics and advocate change. I feel inspired to no end. Thank you, IGNITE, for reminding me why I study international and policy studies, showing me role models within my field, and giving me the tools to go out and affect change, one person at a time. Thank you for providing me with a space to gain energy from other driven and like-minded females."

-Esther Bellinsky, International and Policy Studies major at the University of Denver Colorado, sharing how the conference impacted her.

Keynote speaker Azure Antoinette paved the way for an impactful day by sharing her story of how she found the career she was destined for. As a poet, brand humanist and creative strategist, corporate and leadership training consultant, Antoinette lives her mantra of “Do What You Love, Love What You Do” as well as projecting this maxim onto the many communities she inspires. Her powerful words left the young women in the room moved and stimulated to learn what it means to be in the political world.

“The way to inspire change is to recognize the wisdom of a woman.” - Azure Antoinette

To kick off a full and exciting day about learning how to run for office, students choose from one of three policy breakout sessions: Immigration in America: Journey & Life, The Whole Shebang: Let’s Talk Women’s Health & Wellness, and Girls in STEM: For an Equitable World. Each session went into detail its different topics and linked issues - shining light on the unknown as well as addressing and putting an end to several stereotypes.

Often times, we are taught WHAT we are supposed to do and not HOW we’re supposed to do it. YWPLC included four advocacy breakout sessions tailored to fit the different tools of advocacy.  Participants learned both the why and the how and walked away confident and eager to use their new skills.

Political Process and You, hosted by 18by.vote, presented the barriers and opportunities within our electoral system. The session also analyzed the trends of who is most likely to vote and why, as well as projecting the importance of each individual that was present in the room.

In Your Voice Matters, hosted by Hilary Blair, CEO and Executive Communication Coach of ARTiculate, participants explored using new techniques to amp up their communications skills and be more effective in having their voices heard. Blair had the Students completed different exercises, instilling in them confidence and teaching them how to get comfortable sharing their voices, stories, and passions to make a difference in the world.

In Youth Advocacy Colorado, Project Voyce facilitated two workshops to enhance one’s skills as a changemaker. The first workshop, “Questioning Authority and Us: How to Find the Root of All our problems”, explored the language behind the act of questioning authority and engaged the students in different activities that pushed them to use critical thinking. In the second, “Digital Storytelling: Resistance and Reclamation”, young women were taught how to use their personal narratives to reshape the language around larger issues.

In Your Phone, Your Community & You: How to Use the Internet to Change the World IRL, digital engagement strategist  Lucille Wenegieme dove into the plethora of ways an individual can use social media to change the world. This session taught young women how they can get their messages heard in a noisy online space and what kinds of career paths they can take to make money and impact the world at the same time.

Finally, the conference was closed out with an intriguing panel on how to get civically and politically engaged, hosted by four powerful panelists: Jennifer Bacon, Denver School Board; Candi CbeBaca, Project VOYCE and candidate for Denver City Council District 9; Julie Gonzales, policy director at the Meyer Law Office and candidate for Colorado Senate District 34; and Yasmine Mohamed, Student Voice Student Vote. The four shared their stories, experiences and offered several different pieces of advice on the ways in which young women can build themselves in the political world.

“Know your worth, know your power.” -Julie Gonzales, Policy Director at the Meyer Law Office and Candidate for Colorado Senate District 34

“Lean into your ‘why’. We have to step up and lead with a lens of problem-solving and caring.” - Jennifer Bacon, Denver School Board

“My gender opened up opportunities for me.” - Candi CbeBaca, Project VOYCE and candidate for Denver City Council District 9