Be you, be empowered

This blog post is written by Landon’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Joe Canty about the “Be You” Youth Empowerment Summit held at Landon as a part of the school's partnership with ConnectDMV. The event for Middle and Upper School students and parents of color was designed to help families navigate the private school experience and their own personal journey, as well as to help families connect with each other through shared conversation and ideas.

Students talking at Connect DMV summt

There was an amazing energy among the 150 plus students, parents, and educators who came to campus to participate in the ConnectDMV “Be You” Youth Empowerment Summit! The purpose of the event was to provide students (and their parents) of color with a personal development experience designed to inspire, motivate, and build self-esteem while affirming their unique experiences in independent schools. We challenged assumptions, fostered community, and reaffirmed our belief in ourselves.

The student and parent workshops captured shared experiences and ideas in small group settings. From “Celebrating You,” in which participants explored how to stay true to their values and maintain their identity, to “Refueling: Getting it all Done,” in which student learned tips and strategies to re-energize, cope, grow, and ultimately thrive throughout the school year, the sessions captured many of the issues facing families of color today.

There were also sessions related to single-sex issues for girls and boys. “Advocating for yourself, dreaming big” was also popular, as it helped students lean into the challenges associated with stepping out of their comfort zone and following their passions.

Students attend session at ConnectDMV summit

Each presenter shared compelling stories and experiences about their identities in a transparent way that connected with the audience. Our engaging keynote speakers, Dr. Bethany Young of the Urban Institute, and Dr. Justin Hopkins, a student psychologist, both shared helpful strategies on navigating the journey that students of color face in an independent school and the importance of showing up in spaces as your authentic self. Dr. Hopkins also led a session for parents on student mental health. 

It was great to work on such impactful programming with ConnectDMV, one of our community partners. It was exciting to see such a great turnout for the summit, including Landon students, parents, faculty, and staff, and we look forward to next year!