The annual conference featuring workshops presented by students for students is back for its 25th year, and for the first time it’s being held in Duluth. The Young Leaders’ Make a Difference Conference is February 3, from 8:15 to 2 p.m. at the DECC.
More than 350 students in grades 9-12, from 19 area high schools across the Iron Range and Duluth, are expected to attend. The Make a Difference Conference is presented by the St. Louis County Extension Youth in Action Program and funded in part by the St. Louis County Board, Partners Advisory Board, schools, and many local businesses, agencies, colleges, and community organizations.
Youth in Action students have put together eight workshops to present at the conference. Topics include: what to know about vaping, stepping out of your comfort zone, unlocking your potential, yoga and mindfulness, natural remedies for good health, coping strategies for better mental health, identifying your 2020 vision, and finding the good life. Students presenting at the conference come from Mesabi East, Hibbing, Virginia, Marshall School in Duluth, Northeast Range, Hermantown, South Ridge and Ely.
Keynote speaker this year is Kyle Willkom, founder of Action Packed Leadership and the author of two books on leadership, Wake Up Call and The Thinking Dilemma. He delivers messages on positivity, leadership, and action through his use of musical comedy and engaging personal stories from his out-of-the-ordinary life experiences. Also performing will be Duluth’s Renegade Theater Company. Duluth Mayor Emily Larson will speak to give a brief welcome.
Youth in Action is a service organization involving students from schools throughout the Iron Range and Duluth. Its mission is to promote youth leadership and bring positive change to northern Minnesota. The Make a Difference Conference got its start back in 1996 with the goal of bringing together youth from across the Iron Range for a day of presentations by students for students. Until now, the conference has always been held on the Iron Range, but due to increasing involvement from Duluth area students, the goal is now to rotate the conference between the two locations every other year.