Design for Change hosts a student leadership summit

Design for Change members and student government listening attentively to Gonzalez Photocredit: Mitchell Moreno

By Jazlyn Jimenez ’20

Design for Change welcomed ITW, North Grand, and student government to a leadership summit on May 3 from 12:40 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

MLA and Kelvyn Park were also invited to join them; however, they did not show up.

Before the meeting started, seniors Daquan Dubose and Styles Pinkston performed a powerful piece titled “Changes.”

Afterwards, junior Lizette Benavides enthusiastically kicked off the summit by explaining the purpose of the gathering and the topic, which was gun violence.

Before Benavides introduced sophomore Kelvin Dominguez to lead the icebreaker, she explained the agenda for the day: an activity led by each of the members, a speech from a guest speaker, and lastly, a reflection to see how these students can go back to their schools and create change from what they learned from the summit.

The purpose of this summit was “to show students how to organize an event and create a community action project,” explained Benavides.

Before Dominguez introduced the ice breaker for the meeting, he asked the students to get into diverse groups. After the students moved into new groups, he passed out large laminated bingo cards that had a bunch of different descriptions of people labeled in each of the boxes. The purpose of the game was for the groups to find a member in their group that matched one of the description in the boxes. Whoever got the most boxes filled with names, won.

“One of the best parts of the summit was everyone coming together and being able to communicate with each other and understand we are a lot closer than we think,” expressed Benavides.

After the ice breaker, another member explained the next activity: an obstacle course. The groups selected two members to participate: one to blindfoldedly walk the course without touching any of the cones laid out and one to give said person directions.

Once each of the group’s representatives successfully completed the course, Benavides moved the group’s focus to the topic of the summit: gun violence. She started off by showing the students a picture of a young boy who was a victim of gun violence. Benavides asked the students what they saw when they looked at the picture. The students responded with “an innocent child.” She then showed another visual of a location before and after a crime scene. Benavides explained that purpose of those visuals were to emphasize that no matter how “happy a place may seem, the dark truth still lies there.”

This led way for the next activity. One of the members handed the students a notecard to write their own experience of gun violence for a story wall. The students were then asked to share. A handful of  students shared chilling stories of the people they lost to acts of gun violence they witnessed in their neighborhoods.

Sophomore Steven Escogido was one of the students who shared his story. Escogido witnessed a murder, which was the result of the victim being mistaken for a gang member in his neighborhood.

After the student’s finished sharing their stories, the guest speaker, Ernest Gonzalez, was introduced. Gonzalez is apart of the “My block. My hood. My city.” organization.  

Gonzalez asked the students to form a close circle. He expressed how it “hurts”’ to have a story on gun violence. He then proceeded to explain his journey and how he became apart of the “My block. My hood. My city.” organization.  He also informed students on how they could get involved with this organization.

Lastly, Benavides concluded the meeting by informing the students of organizations that they can get involved in over the summer to continue making change in their communities.

This was only the first step of their community project. Design for Change’s next goal is to host a summit for the entire community.

“It was an amazing experience as those who attended were able to see how gun violence affects our community,” expressed junior vice president Cristian Ortiz.

Design for Change meets every other Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. During the first couple of meetings, the group found an issue that mattered to them. Now, they are working to organize events and bring the community together to create that change.

“I joined this club because social awareness and activism has always been my interest, so just to hear a club called Design for Change, I was instantly excited,” expressed Benavides.

Design for Change is a nationwide organization. Students from all over complete community projects and submit them to the organization, and the students who create the best community project wins a trip to Rome.