The Rapidian

Kids Summit alumni brainstorm with WMCAT direction for 2019 event

On Friday, October 26, 2018, the Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit leadership team received expert advice from a group of Kids Summit alumni about what they valued most during the event. Art, literacy, physical play, laughter and magic, were common threads among those values.
Underwriting support from:

/Erica Soto

/Erica Soto

As Kids Summit coordinator for the past two years, I’ve had the awesome privilege to plan a day for our future leaders to learn, play, grow, and be in community with children of many different backgrounds. Coming into the third year of Kids Summit, I wanted to be more aware and intentional about honoring the best experts on what children want, the children themselves.

On Friday, October 26, 2018, the Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit leadership team received such expert advice from a group of Kids Summit alumni about what they valued most during the event. We met at the new West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology headquarters on Bridge Street and the kids were led through a great empathy workshop by Brandy Arnold, a program manager at WMCAT.

Art, literacy, physical play, laughter and magic, were common threads among those values. One former participant said if she could have Summit her way, “It would be like a giant birthday party all day long.” Another participant said if they had it their way they would use a Summit to “Tell politicians a piece of their mind.” The group defined community as a big family or city, working together. They also defined it as an environment or large area with multiple habitats of living & non-living things.

What I interpret from these values is that children are not only capable of understanding what a community is but they also have an innate desire to grow culturally. They are aware of the complexities of the issues our communities face based on their own lived experiences and how to respect other experiences that differ from their own. Summit provides a place for this connection to happen authentically.

Partnerships among vital culturally relevant spaces in our community and one-on-one dialogue with key community leaders are just two examples of the significance of Kids Summit. This past March, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss began Summit with a story time. Participants were able to ask her questions about what it takes to be Mayor and how they can make a difference. Following this dialogue, we walked to Devos Performance Hall for a special performance of the opera “Green Eggs and Ham” thanks to the generosity of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Each child received a copy of the popular Dr. Seuss book with signatures of all the musicians performing that day inside of each book. To have such a unique experience and something tangible that they can hold on to for a lifetime is invaluable.

We are listening to our future leaders and have so many exciting things in store for next March, but you can help turn their ideas into reality by becoming an official sponsor of the Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit. If you are unable to donate monetarily, please consider submitting a Summit workshop proposal via the website by November 26th. Email [email protected] to donate or visit Summit's webpage for more information.

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