The 2023 Colorado Youth Diversity Conference will feature 46 workshops on a wide variety of topics, all chosen by the YCD Colorado Student Board.

Below is a list of the various workshop options available to students and educators attending the Colorado Youth Diversity Conference in January 2023. You can also download a PDF document of this list of workshops here.

The Asian Pacific Islander Experience

Presenter TBD

With the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, a lot of our Asian American community is feeling demoralized and unsafe. Although we have been here for generations, racism has reared its ugly head to target our community once again. This is not a new phenomenon and will probably not be the last time we see it happen. In this workshop, attendees will learn more about the history of Asian American discrimination, resources available to the Asian American community, and things we can do to make sure that we keep our community safe. The workshop will include a discussion/reflection activity, interactive polling, and a worksheet to create an action plan. Despite our challenges, our community will do what it has always done—persevere and stay resilient.

Becoming an Ally+

Presented by
Jon Olafson

In this workshop we will explore identity and the lenses by which we see the world.  We will then walk through concrete steps in which we can not only be allies to one another, but what I call allyship+.  Gone are the days when we can simply say “I’ve got your back.”  Today, we need someone next to us, listening to us, and using different things in their toolbox to be an Ally+.  Finally, we will conclude with ways in which we can transform organizations into places of authenticity and belonging.

Book Bans in Colorado: Stay Aware, Stay Prepared

Presented by
Miranda Doran-Myers, Colorado Association of Libraries

Book bans in schools have long been a controversial issue, with debates centered on issues of censorship and the role of literature in shaping young minds. In this session, members of the Colorado Association of Libraries’ Intellectual Freedom Committee will discuss the escalation of these debates over the past few years and provide information about recent book ban challenges in Colorado. We will also offer strategies for handling these challenges in schools while working through common book ban scenarios as a group. This workshop is offered for adults and educators only.

Building a Strong Inclusion and Justice Club at Your School

Presented by

Are you interested in creating a diversity/inclusion/social justice club at your own school? Do you already have a club and are looking for ways to recruit students and host events? This workshop will allow you to engage in an open dialogue, provide you with tools, tricks, and ideas to grow and nurture your own inclusion and justice club, and create space for future collaboration with educators and students from many schools. This workshop is offered for adults and educators only.

Can You Make Yourself Happier?

Presented by
Lisa Geissler, psychologist

Students will learn about the neurobiological basis of emotion, and participate in a positive discussion about depression, anxiety, and stress. Special emphasis will be placed on psychological tools to cope with difficult thoughts and emotions — something that everyone has!   Local psychologists in-training will provide you with some useful strategies on how to boost your happiness quotient!

Changing the Narrative: Unpacking Bias

Presented by
the Office of the Independent Monitor of Denver’s Kids and Cops Program

This interactive workshop engages community members in a discussion about personal biases and how they impact perceptions and behaviors between law enforcement and community. The workshop allows participants to reflect on how biases show up in both their professional and personal lives. The workshop is intended to promote self-reflection, self-accountability and personal growth through dialogue and creation of action steps.

Changing the Way We Think about Human Trafficking of Youth in Colorado

Presented by
the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, both labor and sex, disproportionately affects historically marginalized communities including systems-involved youth, people of color, those who identify as LGBTQ+, and other oppressed communities. The common and persistent narrative is that trafficking involves kidnapping and force and happens to ‘innocent’, usually white, females. We have to change this narrative because simply put, we are missing it. It starts with youth understanding what trafficking looks like in Colorado communities, who is targeted and why, and how traffickers manipulate unequal power dynamics to control victims. This workshop will bust through myths perpetuated by social media and Hollywood; illustrate the realities of trafficking in Colorado’s rural and urban communities; and encourage new ways of thinking about vulnerability, marginalization and exploitation of youth. We will end with a call to action for young leaders attending the conference.

Character Counts

Presented by
Emily Zimmerman

Emily Zimmerman shares her story of how she lost her eyesight and became blind, encouraging the audience to accept people for who they are, not external factors that so often dictate our actions. The workshop includes an activity/demonstration to help show this idea of labels given making a difference, positively or negatively, for that person.

Confronting and Dismantling Ableism

Presented by
the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

People may experience disability at any time in life, regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality, etc. Disability may also affect people along a spectrum, whether it be temporary or permanent, hidden or visible. In this workshop, CCDC staff will help participants gain a working knowledge of disability and how ableism affects all of us. We will use clips and themes from the Oscar award-nominated documentary, Crip Camp, to facilitate a conversation that encourages participants to identify the challenges involved in dismantling ableism. Participants will then work in small groups wherein they will identify instances of ableism in their everyday lives/environments and create actionable steps they could take to address this form of oppression. This workshop will be highly participatory and action-oriented.

Confronting Male Privilege

Presented by
the Conflict Center

This workshop will approach the complex and messy topic of confronting male privilege and its role in the interconnected systems of oppression. In doing so, we will discuss toxic masculinity and how it affects people of all genders. This will include the effect of toxic masculinity on men’s mental health and men’s suicide prevention. Additionally, we will explore how toxic masculinity plays a role in sexism and misogyny, including issues such as mansplaining and reproductive justice. Lastly, we will touch upon the ways in which toxic masculinity interacts with other harmful “isms” such as racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, mental illness, and more. By the end of the workshop, all participants will have the knowledge needed to begin dismantling the ways in which toxic masculinity has affected their lives.

Dispelling Stereotypes of Modern Native Americans in 2023

Presented by
Mason Estes

This workshop will help young people meet modern Native American youth, to learn about the diversity within the Native community and dispel stereotypes about Native Americans.  We’ll have an open and frank discussion on how these stereotypes have been formed, but more importantly how we can end them.

Dress Code and Social Justice

Presenter TBD

Learn about the history and current issues surrounding dress codes in schools. We will discuss sexism, cultural bias and racism in school dress codes, student movements and impact, and ways to speak out about policies in your school.

Empowering You to Prevent Suicide

Presenter TBD

In this session, participants will gain insight and information into the risk factors students face when it comes to suicide. We’ll debunk some myths and face some hard truths. The goal? To feel empowered to support ourselves and one another, working toward prevention of suicide in our community.

Exploring Social Justice Careers

Presented by Quill Phillips, Executive Director of Equity & Inclusion at Arapahoe Community College

This session will cover steps to take to get into a social justice career. Participants will have the chance to ask questions of an experienced senior diversity officer about her journey and how she made a career out of advocating for inclusion and justice every day.

Finding Your Voice and Skills for Conflict Resolution

Presented by
Danny Fisher, Columbia University Conflict Resolution Program

Everyone experiences conflict—over who we are, what we believe, and so many other things. Sometimes that conflict grows until it harms or even ends those relationships. It doesn’t have to be that way. We will discuss conflicts that you are experiencing and effective ways to deal with them. We will use small-group discussion and practical tools to help each other address conflict in positive ways.

The Four I’s of Oppression

Presented by
Regan Byrd

Racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of oppression occur at different levels: ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internal. Why does this framework matter? Because each of these levels are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Any effort to dismantle oppression must address all four of these levels. We’ll talk about the four I’s of oppression using specific examples to understand the different ways we need to tackle it.

Healing The Path Forward: Reparations & The Criminal (In)justice System

Presented by
Reparations Circle Denver

In this session we’ll look at the long shadow of slavery and its continuing influence on the criminal (in)justice system – specifically the inequities Black and brown people have faced from slave patrols and the convict leasing system to the war on drugs and school to prison pipeline, and the many other unjust conditions we face today. We’ll take a brief survey of our history, look at the reparative solutions being proposed across the country as part of the reparations movement and then work together, using a unique creative writing process, to design healing solutions together.

Hip-Hop and Social Justice

Presented by
Creative Strategies for Change

Learn the art and history of hip-hop elements (dance/lyrics/beats/visual) and its social justice context in a full body immersion. Create a rap, dance or spoken word social justice piece while exploring your own sense of style and expression!

How to Survive When You Go Homeless

Presented by
Urban Peak

If you were to go homeless, how would you survive? What would you include in your backpack? What would you keep and what would you need to leave behind? Where would you eat and how can you make sure you get nutritional balance? How would you make friends? We will teach participants what is involved in homelessness for a deeper understanding of this marginalized and misunderstood population.

The Immigrant Experience: Home is Here!

Presented by
Overland High School

This presentation gives insight on the struggles immigrant and first generation students face in school between inappropriate questions and common misconceptions and navigating the differences between their school life and their home life. You will also hear personal stories from students from all around the world and learn how you can be a good ally. Through games and interactive activities, The Immigrant Experience presentation will change your perspective and provide you with information to bring back to your communities to create safe spaces for your immigrant and first generation peers and students.

Impacting Perceptions: Releasing Toxic Lessons That Harm Your Self-Esteem

Presented by
Hailima Yates, Luv Mrk

We are bombarded daily by several factors that can shape the way we feel about and see ourselves. For that reason, Impacting Perceptions consists of engaging imagery, self-reflective exercises, and thought-provoking discussions to understand how our views are developed causing our low self-esteem, negative self-image, and identity struggles. As we’re uncovering the origins teaching us to measure our value, from personal experiences and our environment to the media, we will also recognize how our conditioned beliefs influence us to make choices that can be detrimental to our life. After establishing what has shaped your views guiding your actions, you can identify what disparaging lessons to un-accept as truth and determine what experiences to emotionally heal from so they may no longer continue to crush your spirit. This workshop is for you if you want to know your worth and remember the best of who you are.

The Intersections of Gender Diversity and Neurodiversity

Presented by Colorado Children’s Hospital

In this workshop we will discuss the diversity of gender and how neurodiversity intersect. Harvard defines neurodiversity as, “Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits”.

Introducing Anti-Oppression into Your Classroom

Presented by
Assétou Xango

There is a big difference between non-discrimination and anti-discrimination. Our world is discriminatory by default. When we do not actively counter-act that norm, we are complicit in the oppression we claim to stand against. This workshop will help you have the conversations about systemic oppression BEFORE they become an issue in your classroom, school, or organization. Xango will give you the simple and universal tools to have these difficult conversations and how to deal with microaggressions and isms when they inevitably arise. The tools in this workshop will be appropriate for your constituents of any age. This workshop is offered for adults and educators only.

An Introduction to Reproductive Justice

Presented by
Sam Carwyn

During this workshop, participants will learn the core principles of reproductive justice. Specific moments throughout history will be highlighted in an interactive timeline that uplifts the stories of people of color and other targeted communities. Attendees will identify ways they can model an inclusive lens today.

An Introduction to Women’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Self-Defense

Presented by
Colorado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is ideal for women.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created specifically to allow the smaller person to overcome the bigger, stronger, more aggressive opponent through the proper use of timing, positioning, leverage, and technique.  When women are attacked, they are often taken to the ground by a larger, more aggressive assailant and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, known for its devastatingly effective ground fighting techniques, directly addresses this situation.  Because of this, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is often recognized as the single most effective self-defense system in the world, especially for women.  Take advantage of this opportunity to introduce yourself to the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

Islam and Islamophobia

Presented by
Dr. Reema Wahdan

Islamophobia is the discrimination and oppression of Muslims. This workshop will serve as an open forum for students and adults to ask questions freely as they learn some of the common myths and misconceptions surrounding the Islamic faith and Muslim people. This session will also help participants understand how xenophobia against any race, religion or ethnicity should not be tolerated.

It’s Complicated: Navigating Healthy Relationships

Presented by
Bronwyn Neal, University of Denver

Teen dating is hard. Texting, social media, and navigating the school environment make romantic relationships really hard. What are healthy and unhealthy qualities in a relationship? How do I kindly and respectfully break up with someone? This workshop will discuss what to look for in a healthy relationship and how to communicate better with your partner.

Know Your Rights: What Do I Do When I Encounter Police?

Presented by
Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC

In this presentation, we will walk through how to navigate various police encounters including traffic stops, searches or seizures, questioning, and arrests. We will also highlight some of our cases involving illegal police conduct against youth of color. The goal is for students to walk away knowing their rights, knowing how to navigate police encounters, and what to do if their rights have been violated. Finally, this is an interactive format with significant audience participation.

Lest We Forget … Stories of Wisdom, Stories of Truth

Presented by
Cassandra Sewell

We will use storytelling to take a journey through American history from the perspective of the African American woman. The journey begins with slavery and travels into present day America. Racism, hatred, and stereotyping are some of the many topics touched upon in this presentation. We will end with a group discussion on how society has changed–for better or worse–to present day, and the power of one.

Let’s Talk Politics! Tools and Tips for Engaging in Constructive Discussion on Sensitive Topics

Presented by
Danny Fisher, Columbia University Conflict Resolution Program

Using conflict resolution tools, participants will learn and practice how to discuss political issues with family, friends, and others. Focusing on curiosity, empathy, and active listening, we will shift away from simply convincing others and toward mutual understanding.

A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School

Presented by
Carlotta Walls LaNier

In 1957, Carlotta Walls LaNier and eight other classmates became the first African American students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. After the governor blocked their entry to the school, eventually President Eisenhower called on the Army to protect the students as they attended the previously segregated school. You are invited to hear Carlotta’s story of this history-making experience and to reflect on the achievements and setbacks the country has made in race relations since.

More Than Sex and STIs: Anti-Oppressive Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education (CHSE)

Presented by
the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

CHSE is known to improve youth sexual health and reduce unintended pregnancy, but what about suicide, bullying, and sexual violence? This session will explore how CHSE policies and instruction, with a focus on anti-oppressive CHSE that centers a racial equity and social justice framework, can be used to mitigate risks. Presenters will discuss the research behind CHSE, core components of instruction, and available resources to support implementation such as inclusive policy assessments and adapted curricula tools to meet the needs of queer youth, youth of color, and youth experiencing disabilities, and others traditionally left out of sex education. This workshop is offered for adults and educators only.

My Ethics versus Your Values

Presented by
Effley Brooks, University of Denver

This interactive workshop will challenge students to explore their ethics and values that have been formed throughout their lives. They will face ethical dilemmas and practice communication techniques when faced with different thinking. There will be laughter!

Native People and the Legacy of Natural Medicine

Presented by
Spirit of the Sun

We will be talking about the medicinal properties of sage, sweat grass, yarrow, and serviceberries. These are all plants native to Colorado and we will discuss how they can be used. We also will have an activity making yarrow tea, wrapping sage, and sampling serviceberries. We also will discuss mycelium and it’s healing properties, and how we have grown our own mycelium in our houses. If we have time we will be making mycelium kits to take home.

Our Voices: Past and Present

Presented by
New Era Colorado

Our voices and stories are powerful. In this workshop, we will start by learning about the history of civic engagement centering around Indigenous communities and Black activists. We will describe the stories of the past and the fight for voting rights in BIPOC communities, including past and current voter suppression tactics. Then, we will go over ways you can tell your story by writing about issues that matter to our generation using various mediums, such as writing to your elected officials or publishing your work in a newspaper. We will provide a PowerPoint and make it interactive so that students can include knowledge that they’ve already learned.

Queer Joy! We Are All in This Together

Presented by

The audience will be polled on topics similar to the Privilege Walk in order to gain an understanding of themselves and their peers. Each individual will be encouraged to engage in story sharing and deep, meaningful conversations regarding their identities and experiences. Ultimately, the audience will leave with some resources needed to begin the healing process.

Restorative Practices in Schools: Closing the Equity Gap

Presented by
The Conflict Center

We will practice a community building circle and discuss the unique and dynamic ways circles are used in schools to change climate and culture. You will then do a brief activity that demonstrates the influence of perspective. We will briefly talk data and theory, and then the facilitators will demonstrate at least one restorative conference. You will understand how restorative practices eliminates the power differential between people, which creates equity in conflict and discipline situations. The training is interactive, relevant, and fun. This workshop is offered for adults and educators only.

Sexual Violence and Rape Culture

Presented by
Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA)

We will discuss definitions, concepts, and myths about sexual violence to uncover the prevalence of rape culture in our society. We will go over how intersections of oppressive systems create a rape culture, and how to move towards a culture of consent and equity.

Supporting QTBIPOC

Presented by
Erica Castro, Joy as Resistance

Participants will be presented with statistics about LGBTQ youth both in the US and Denver specifically. They will also be introduced to the intersectionality of the LGBTQ community by spotlighting queer, trans, and gender expansive youth of color specifically. A research project that I did as a queer Latinx masters of social work student will be presented where I share qualitative data around the assets and challenges that belong to this community demonstrating what we can keep doing to support this community and do differently. We will hear directly from young people of color via clips from their interviews (video consent to share was given) to demonstrate the outcomes of the data, as data come to life is the substance that creates the spark to initiate change within community members to make a difference. We will analyze what folks can do within their own spaces and power to advocate for policy changes or affinity safe spaces and how to educate the youth serving professionals that lead in the spaces that they inhibit.

Transgender 101

Presented by
Reimond Vallier

In this presentation, I’m going to share my years-long journey of discovering who I am. Now as a trans man, I want to share my knowledge of how teachers can support transgender students through respecting pronouns, combating transphobia, and providing a safe environment for students who are in the LGBTQ+ community or kids that just need the space to find themselves.

Understanding Racial Battle Fatigue

Presented by
Asia Lyons

This session is specifically created for educators attending the conference. This session talks about how BIPOC educators experience racism-related stress in the workplace and how that stress then expresses itself as racial battle fatigue. The session is meant for educators to understand what racial battle fatigue is and how to lessen or avoid it while teaching. This workshop is offered for adults and educators only.

When An Athlete Comes Out

Presented by
Micah Porter, Sports Equality Foundation

This workshop will provide tangible and impactful strategies for athletes who are ready to come out; coaches and adults looking for ways to support; and teammates who want to improve their ally-ship. Understanding best practices to support student-athletes who journey through the coming out process, results in happier, healthier, and more successful athletic programs.

Who Is Your Character? Perspectives and Diversity

Presented by
Ryan Foo, Black Actors Guild

Students will work with the facilitator to ask deep, introspective questions about the nature of self, character, and actor. We will use acting games and improv exercises to have fun and explore these concepts as direct experience.

Women’s Rights and Issues in American Culture

Presented by
Alexis Schmader and Marin Montalbano, University of Denver

We will discuss topics of women’s rights and issues in America ranging from reproductive rights and the pink tax to gender inequity in the criminal justice system and workforce. We will present a PowerPoint discussing these topics and engage in open discussion and interactive activities throughout our presentation.

Yoga IRL

Presented by
Austin Dempers, Fire + Root Collective

This workshop delivers the benefits of Yoga, In Real Life. Those who attend Yoga IRL can expect to gain knowledge and perspective of their individual existence, and how that relates to their environment and those around them. We will feature body awareness exercises, on and off our mats. We will learn strategies for experiencing everyday emotions—fear and excitement, anger and joy—in more than just our heads. And we will explore how all of that fits into the complex world around us. This is the Yoga no one talks about … yet.

You can return to the Colorado Youth Diversity Conference main page here.