By ALEJANDRA ALARCON/Coachella Unincorporated
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — It was no coincidence that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation hosted its statewide #DREAMBRAVE Youth Summit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
On that day, over 160 youth Building Healthy Communities sites courageously came together to fight for equality as the late civil rights leader did during his lifetime.
The purpose of the #DREAMBRAVE Youth Summit was to empower youth and inspire them to be brave by expressing themselves and creating change for equality.
“Your color, sexuality, gender, or what you believe in didn’t matter. You could just feel accepted because everyone was brave enough to express themselves,” said Berenice Venegas, a member of BHC Coachella’s youth council.
Every individual has their own triumph of bravery they have to experience. Andres Diaz, also a member of the BHC Coachella’s youth council has to be courageous everyday because of where he is from.
“To me, bravery is having the courage to speak up when someone is being disrespectful,” said Diaz. “Me being brave is being ‘out’ in a community whose culture doesn’t accept a part of who I am. If you feel like you weren’t born brave not to worry because I sure wasn’t born brave, I became courageous.”
Since social media has a great impact on the youth, a major focus of the summit was to engage people from all over the nation through social media to promote messages of bravery, acceptance and kindness.
The summit was followed by a march that took place in the streets of downtown Los Angeles, inspired by the historic marches of the civil rights movement led by King. Youth and youth allies marched down the city streets holding signs, chanting, “We will be brave!” and beating drums.
“It felt like you were able to form a unity between different communities with the same beliefs and goals,” said Jose Pompa, a research student with Raices Cultura.
Youth from the Eastern Coachella Valley hope to inspire their own community by being brave and sharing what they learned from their experience. The youth attended different workshops to learn how to handle real life situations.
“At the summit, I went into a Trevor Project workshop and learned about what to do if I or someone needs help dealing with suicidal thoughts. It helps me be more active with people I know and how to handle this if it were to happen,” said Diaz.
The youth representing the Eastern Coachella at the summit came home inspired to make a difference by working toward equality and creating change in their community.