FES to host fourth annual Change Your World Conference

York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies is gearing up to welcome more than 500 high school students on April 5 for the fourth annual Change Your World conference.

Change Your World was launched in 2003 as a way to inspire youth to get involved in their communities and work towards positive social change. The conference features social justice and environmental workshops for high-school students and teachers, and also gives schools the opportunity to promote related projects they have been working on.

“We want to celebrate the great work already being done by high-school students, as well as provide them with opportunities to expand their knowledge and connect with other students interested in environmental and social justice issues,” said conference coordinator and MES student Eric Berard.

Students and teachers have responded to this idea with great enthusiasm. While the conference was originally intended for about 200 students, this year it will host more than 500 students from 50 different schools and 10 school boards – coming to York from as far away as Grimsby and London. Nearly 100 additional students have placed their names on a waiting list, just in case the conference has room for them at the last minute.

This year’s conference will specifically address the issue of youth violence through a keynote presentation by Guatemalan-born spoken word artist SPIN. SPIN, with special guest group, RHYME (Revolutionaries Honouring Your Mind’s Eye), will outline how at-risk youth can be empowered through engagement in spoken word activities. After the keynote, more than twenty student workshops will be offered by groups such as the Daily Bread Food Bank, Warchild, Greenpeace and Katimavik.

“The Faculty of Environmental Studies is tremendously pleased to connect with high-school students through the Change Your World conference,” said FES Dean Joni Seager. “We want to encourage students to learn about social justice and environmental issues – and to make sure they know there is a supportive community in our Faculty that is passionate about exploring and addressing those issues.”

If the rave reviews from past Change Your World conferences are any indicator, this year’s conference will prove to be a wild success. Visit the Change Your World Web site for more information on the conference or contact Lily Piccione at ext. 55252 or e-mail eaction@yorku.ca.