IGNITE, an LGBTQ+ youth summit will be held in the Classroom Building on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, December 2, 2017. The event will feature guest speakers from the community, breakout sessions addressing issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ youth communities of Utah, musical performances, and networking to access educational and career opportunities. Most importantly, they will receive tools and resources that help them to live authentically and have a positive impact in their communities, while determining the direction of their own future.
Along with UVU, Encircle: LGBTQ+ Youth & Family Resource Center is hosting the summit in an effort to bring together LGBTQ+ youth ages 14-18. Parents and Utah schools staff and administration are welcomed and encouraged to attend, as well as other youth, 14-18, who are accepting and supportive. The day-long event will include keynote addresses from Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, humanitarian Bruce Bastian and Senator Jim Dabakis.
Sen. Dabakis expressed support of IGNITE saying, “This event will be remembered. It is an honor for anyone to be there and participate. There may be bigger and better conferences, but they will not be the first. This is historic for Utah.”
“At IGNITE we want to remind the LGBTQ+ youth of Utah how how important they are, how much their lives matter and that their futures are bright,” Encircle’s Executive Director Stephenie Larsen explained the motivation behind this inaugural summit in a statement. “The youth coming to IGNITE may be feeling isolation, depression and loneliness. We want them to understand they are not alone. We want them to know how important they are, how much they are valued and they can have an amazing future. Mostly we want them to feel love and connection.”
In addition, Will Spendlove, an Encircle board co-chair commented on the event, “What an exciting chance for LGBTQ+ high school kids and allies from all over Utah to come together, meet each other and share their own personal experiences. Encircle is thrilled to sponsor and celebrate each one of you, our brave youth.”
Encircle opened its doors in February and since that time, Larsen said in an interview with Huffington Post in October, “Fifty to 60 kids come to the [resource center] every day. Since we’ve opened, our therapists have seen over 250 new clients. People are coming to therapy, they’re staying, and they’re coming multiple times. We’ve trained over 400 volunteers who work at Encircle, and I think every time we train a volunteer, they become an ally and more empathetic and understanding of these kids’ lives.”
Pre-registration can be done online at https://encircletogether.org/ignite, as well as finding out more details regarding IGNITE. Registration is also available at the summit on Dececember 2, beginning at noon. The summit concludes at 8 p.m. Dinner will be provided.