A fresh perspective – Students point of view after attending the Philly Teen Conference
 The YSI Philly 15th Annual Anthony Martin’s “I Can Dream” Conference was successful, to say the least. Though there were teens of all ages, coming from different parts of the Philadelphia area, the vibe was inclusive and nonjudgmental. Having the ability to see the process pan out was incredible. There was a strong, positive energy in the room emanating from all, that emphasized the want from all to interact positively with one another. There was no sense of the older teens assuming that their seniority automatically held them above those who were younger: acceptance was the only feeling that was given off.
This opportunity was one that most likely will not cross one’s path throughout their lifetime. If lucky enough to experience even a small movement such as this one reaching toward hopeful new beginnings, one can see the amount of education gained in a mere couple of hours by a young generation. The amount of information provided was vast, but it was the way in which the knowledge was enthusiastically consumed – with understanding and open ears – ears that wanted to listen for their own benefit – and a genuine mood of hope. Optimism provided by a panel of people, some being adults, others kids, lent honest experiences, but were followed with inspiring words.
In a more personal sense, sitting on the sidelines, watching all of these sincere interactions that occurred, was an encouraging scene. I am incredibly thankful that I was allotted this chance to see how different daily life can be, for half of a day, when crossing an invisible line, dictating the schools students go to. As an almost-graduate from Lower Merion High School, I can grasp the idea of how lucky I am, but there is no way I could honestly say that I know just how lucky I am. I have lived in the same school district on the other side of the Philadelphia line for the entirety of my life. With that said, to have a door opened for me, I am grateful.
Lower Merion High School Student c/o 2017 – Belle Lebow
(images courtesy of Belle Lebow)