Each spring, the Global Kids Annual Youth Conference brings together over 500 young people and 100 educators for a youth-led event that addresses an international issue of importance. Seeing the Syrian refugee crisis and hearing the anti-immigrant rhetoric by leading political candidates, GK Leaders chose to examine migration and immigration for the 2016 Annual Youth Conference.
The event is organized and carried out by students in GK's Conference Planning Committee, who participate in a rigorous training process, select the conference theme, choose the event's guest speakers and, working with experts and GK staff members, develop and conduct interactive workshops for their peers.
As the culminating event for the youth involved in the Power of Citizenry Leadership Program, the Annual Youth Conference provides GK students with a space to demonstrate their growth in our programs. The youth involved commit countless hours to the program and many of them identify organizing the Conference as one of the most important events of their high school careers.
The Annual Youth Conference is also a life-changing event for the youth who attend. Many of them comment that the event is one of the few forums in which youth are trusted with challenging international content and given an opportunity to voice their opinions about critical world issues. As a result, many young people join our programs following the event and many educators request Global Kids services in their schools or refer students to GK's leadership programs.
In recent years, themes have included Youth Activism, Violence & Peacebuilding, Climate Change, Global Media and Technology, and Children’s Rights, and guest speakers have come from such groups as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, UNICEF, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Wall Street Journal, among many others. The conference also features performances by a range of musicians and artists, as well as the young people who participate in Global Kids' Undesirable Elements theater project.
Undesirable Elements is a dynamic, year-long theater project developed and performed by the participants. Students weave together their cultural heritage, personal stories, world history, and current events to share compelling stories that tackle difficult issues such as globalization, immigration, and poverty. Conducted in collaboration with Ping Chong & Company, Undesirable Elements combines dance, music, spoken word and theater to create a moving and unforgettable experience that is performed regularly at Global Kids’ Annual Youth Conference and other venues.