On Friday, September 29, Ames High students participated in the inaugural Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit, hosted by the Des Moines Public Schools and sponsored by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
The catalyst for the event arose out of a few incidents where a racial slur was used on the football field between a DMPS football team and a metro suburb. This incidents were not in isolation, but the Des Moines Public Schools wanted to use them as a way instigate productive change within the school systems.
According to a DMPS press release, Roosevelt High School Principal Kevin Biggs was “instrumental in taking the lead in understanding something needed to be done on a larger scale to bring all groups together for the good of the cause.”
Ames High jumped on the opportunity to get students involved and sent 13 students to the summit. Throughout the day, student listened to keynote speakers and engage in discussions with students from other schools. Several Ames students spoke at the summit and talked about their personal experiences with bias as well as the consequences of not speaking out for what is right.
Ames High School Counselor Amy DeBlasi said “the first annual Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit addresses challenging stereotypes and creating an environment where youth feel safe to speak up for what’s right.” Each attending school developed an action plan as a takeaway from the event, presented it to the group of 200 total students, and the implementation of this plan will be led by Ames High student leaders.
In addition to the Des Moines schools of East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, and Roosevelt High, other CIML-members schools who participated in the event included Ames, Ankeny Centennial, Marshalltown, Southeast Polk, Urbandale, Waukee, and West Des Moines Valley.