Last week I had pleasure of attending the Youth Organizing and Policy Institute (YOPI), and it was such a great experience. The conference began on Friday with an activity where we were introduced to the concept of creating a story of self, and exactly what that would look like. The segment also included a part where they announced the outcomes, where they succeeded, and the challenges that are still faced by Planned Parenthood today. There was also a brief overview of Planned Parenthood and the services that are offered there.
One Point I especially enjoyed was the Reproductive Justice crash course that was given. The presenters started off with the Sonya Renee, “What Women Deserve.” It definitely appealed to my reproductive health heart strings, and put me in a mood to make change! Day one also included a segment titled, “Not Your Momma’s Activism.” This was especially enjoyable because it went over the 3 main leadership styles and the positive and negative aspects of them. This proved useful because it gave us tools to begin the makings of creating a plan of action to engage others on our campuses.
Day Two brought a fun filled day, with a special emphasis on the filled because there were 6 sessions that attendees participated in. They ranged from building relationships where you change the story of self to the story of us all the way through building an effective campaign. This day also included designated energizers which got us up and moving and helped break up the monotony of being in the conference rooms all day.
During lunch we had the pleasure of hearing from Representative Scott Randolph, Jenna Tosh, Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando CEO, and the Dr. Maria Santana, the head of the Women Studies department at UCF. They provided a refreshing outlook on Women and Health care in the Southeast, and included a call to action for us as young people to get up and mobilize and be the change that we all needed to see. This day also included individual skill sessions where I attended Media Training by Veronica Byrd. I learned so much through her presentation including ways to appeal to your audience and engage in interviews. Day 2 included dinner discussion of a subject that came up throughout the course of the conference. Transgender inclusive language became an issue that really heated up, and caused tension for the conference as a whole.
I felt the conference leaders Kelley, Nick, Anna, and the rest of the crew handled the drama amazingly by providing a platform where people could let out their frustrations and created a safe space where educational privilege could be checked at the door and those that didn’t know and understand could learn. I attended the dinner discussion titled, “Masturbation and Sex Ed for Shy People. The discussion centered-around how to get individuals to take contraceptives without feeling shy and fun tactics that other organizations use. The discussion also included how to feel comfortable with masturbation and the questions flowed in an environment that was fun and informative at the same time. I especially enjoyed this one because it enabled peers to learn from each other and anytime I can talk about sex and inform at the same time, I get giddy!
Day 3 brought the culmination of the conference, and a great atmosphere. The tension hanging high during the first two days was non-existent. This day delivered the end of lessons and mobilizing people to attend the first steps in our plans of action; turning the story of self and the story of us into the story of one. Then turning our action plans into actual action. We had the great opportunity of participating in a Vote No on 6 Action where we phone banked supporters, and helped engage others in the movement. The story of self provided by all the conference organizers really allowed us as viewers to connect to them and each other. Our stories of self culminated into a beautiful story of one, and call to action. YOPI provided me with useful tools that I will take with me and use to engage others on campus, and in my day to day activism. It was a great end to an even better conference.