ORLANDO | LGBTQ youth, organizations and allies will engage in a full day of interactive workshops at the fifth annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit, or OYES, at Valencia College’s West Campus in Orlando Nov. 3.
The free event is presented by the City of Orlando with one goal in mind—to empower LGBTQ youth. Guests can attend a variety of workshops dedicated to a range of topics such as career building, poetry, healthy relationships and LGBTQ history.The Zebra Coalition’s Robin Daily serves as planning committee chairperson for OYES. She says the summit aims to give LGBTQ youth a safe space to come together and learn.
“We’re trying to empower youth with resources, with education, diversity and inclusion,” Daily says. “And empower them to see that they can be their authentic selves and be successful in life.”
Young adults between the ages of 13 and 24 are welcome to attend the summit. Thirteen local organizations have partnered together to put on the event, offering resources and support. Zebra Coalition, whose main objective is to provide help and resources for homeless LGBTQ youth, is one of the organizations.
In addition to the groups reaching out to LGBTQ youth on social media and at tabling events, the Department of Children and Families also shares information about the event with those in foster care and group homes. Daily says they’re expecting about 200 attendees this year.
Luis Martinez, Director of Multicultural Affairs & International Relations, handles marketing for OYES. He says the summit is a collaborative effort between the city of Orlando and LGBTQ leaders to educate community youth.
“The goal of this summit is to provide our LGBTQ youth with information on certain topics in order to empower the future generations of LGBTQ leaders in our community,” he says. “Education is equal to power and we are empowering LGBTQ youth with this information, and with resources and activities.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer along with City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who were key figures in the summit’s creation, issued a statement to celebrate the event’s half decade mark.
“The fifth annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit is part of the city’s continued efforts to ensure that Orlando is a welcoming place that embraces diversity and offers equal treatment for all,” Dyer said.
“Thanks to the collaboration of our LGBTQ+ community partners and allies, we are able to host this summit to empower our future generations of leaders with resources, tools and education.”
While Dyer and Sheehan are unable to attend this year’s summit, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs will be in attendance. “Mayor Jacobs will be there and that’s really cool because she’s also the incoming School Board Chair,” Daily says. “So we think that’s perfect.”
For more information and to register to attend the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit, visit OrlYES.org.