GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. – We are often told to avoid talking about religion or politics at the dinner table. However, more than 1,100 Colorado high school students spent their Saturday morning doing just that, while also addressing other controversial issues.
Saturday brought the 25th annual Cherry Creek Diversity Conference to Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village. This was a program by the group Youth Celebrate Diversity.
At the conference, students were eager to open the door to discussion.
“We're young, we're not completely sure of ourselves,” Lauren Banko said. “And hopefully hearing other peoples' stories and opinions can help us learn what we're passionate about and help us make change in our community.”
The 17-year-old served as one of the event’s co-chairs this year.
“So many people here come ready to learn, ready to have their ideas challenged, and I think our youth is going to be the future that our world needs,” Aaron Abai said. He’s the other CCDC co-chair for 2018.
Before considering the future though, the thousands of students revisited the past as they sat in the presence of American labor leader and Civil Rights activist Dolores Huerta.
The students spent Saturday at various workshops -- 40 in total. Many of the workshops surrounded controversial topics like body image, hate crimes, and homelessness.
Both students and adult leaders addressed issues seen in their own communities like cliques, physical and mental challenges, religion, sexual orientation, conflict resolution, gender, socio-economic concerns, and teen social problems.
Denver7 cameras were rolling when a student leader asked a group a question about current events. “Do you think there's validity in things -- different movements like the feminism movement? I know there was, like, the Women's March, Black Lives Matter. What do you guys think about that?”
Saturday’s diversity summit was student-run and student-attended.
“That says so much about our generation, and the future of America,” Banko added.
The two seniors who led the charge say they simply want to lead the change.
Banko explained, “That these conversations won't be taboo anymore and we can talk about religion and politics without having arguments. And agree respectfully, converse and celebrate each other’s perspectives.”