The Student Voice Survey was intended to be the start of a conversation between youth and adults in our community.  One of these conversations took place recently at the Grand Rapids Library.  Becky LaPlant was privileged to observe this conversation and reports on what she saw in this post.  Members of the initiative are ready to assist you as you think about the conversations you are longing to have in support of our area young people.  

As the students entered the room at the Grand Rapids Library, they were welcomed by the smiling faces of adults and the words of welcome, “Hello, I’m glad you’re here.” The adults invited the students to get settled and then to fill their plates with the food prepared especially for them. Conversation was casual and flowing as we eat our soup and sandwiches, salad and chips. Trays of cookies slid back and forth on the table as we discussed music and science fair projects, siblings and school.

After lunch we moved into an arrangement with two circles – the students and Elma Strom, who facilitated the conversation, in the inner circle, and the adults forming an outer circle. Carolyn Eck set the tone for the conversation beautifully, explaining that the group had read the Youth Voice survey and noticed that some things were ranked high and other things were ranked low. She expressed a genuine desire on behalf of the adults to hear from the students before taking any action. Carolyn asked the adults to introduce themselves and why we were there. That was the last time we spoke.

For the next hour Elma facilitated the group with focus, calmness and love, “Within each one of you is great strength and virtue… share from your heart as you feel comfortable, and we will listen with ours.”

This group is currently considering next steps to implement what they are learning together.