March 9, 2018

Youth Diversity Inclusion Committee

Youth Diversity Inclusion Committee

The Youth Diversity Inclusion Committee (YDIC) is one of the newest groups this year at Ames High an is already increasing awareness about social justice. YDIC is composed of student leaders from a variety of different organizations that include student council members, SACRE (Students Advancing Civil Rights Education), Spectrum (LGBTQA), DECA (business), and SHEPH (Students Helping End Poverty and Hunger), among others.

The group got started in the fall when they attended the inaugural Youth Diversity and Inclusion Summit in Des Moines along with many other CIML-member schools. Junior Kijune Kim said, “A lot of us were really inspired at the Summit and presented a lot of ideas there and wanted to take them back to Ames High, but it didn’t happen that way.”

Two weeks after the Summit, the high school band kneeling “incident” garnered national attention and dominated conversations throughout the Ames community. Classes at Ames High used the event as an opportunity to discuss free speech rights and the implications of the act, but the political nature of the event had the potential to spark conversations from both sides. Ames High was no different. The YDIC members saw it in the halls and some felt like it inadvertently altered some of their initial plans.

One of those efforts included student surveys on social justice. Senior Abbas Kusow said, “There was a lot of backlash after the kneeling thing. Once that settled, we wanted to get momentum back to the positive aspects of social justice.” The students who attended the Summit in the fall experienced a video on social justice and incorporated the creation and distribution of a similar one specific to Ames High as part of their action plan.

Ames High School Counselor Allison DiBlasi said, “The purpose of the video was to educate and inform students that they are not alone in situations where they face social injustice, which would include discrimination, derogatory terms, etc. We wanted to teach kids how to confront these problems and feel confident enough to speak out.” That is exactly what they did. Kijune Kim collaborated with several other students and was the driving force behind getting this video done and distributed to the rest of the student body. He felt that the information in the video was well received by much of the student body.

The administration stood behind the way Ames High students handled the protest at the time, and stand by their rights today. The way the students communicated their intent and how the student body collectively generated solutions was exactly the behavior we expect. In the produced video, the authors talk about asking questions and stepping away when social injustice presents itself. We encourage you to watch the video that the Youth Diversity Inclusion Committee made, which is embedded below: