D&Me and Great Parks Will Host Student Voices Retreat on Veterans’ Day

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Area high schoolers can explore nature, journalism, and activism alongside their peers at Democracy & Me’s first-ever Student Voices Retreat, co-hosted by Great Parks of Hamilton County, 1-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, at The Nature Center at the Summit, 1580 Summit Road, in Roselawn.

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Students can practice interviewing and observation skills, perform their own writing, take aim at the Summit archery range, and even help build a chicken coop in this unique urban green space, with national award-winning interpreter Sarah Kent and other Great Parks staff as guides. Guest presenters will be University of Cincinnati Journalism professor Jenny Wohlfarth; Stacy Sims of Mindful Music Moments/The Well; Nick Rose-Stamey of Band in a Bus; and Democracy & Me program director Julie Coppens, with intern Cierra Britten and members of our Student Advisory Board as youth facilitators. We’ll end the day with a campfire and, of course, s’mores.

“It’s going to be such a fun day,” said Cierra Britten, a senior at UC majoring in journalism and Asian studies, who’s been leading the Democracy & Me student team this fall and knows what a stressful time it’s been for many students. “They should come ready to play, maybe make some new friends, and learn a lot.”

Organizers hope teens will come away inspired to enter the 2022 Student Voices Competition, soon to launch here at DemocracyAndMe.com, with $1,000 prizes for outstanding essays, artwork, or other creative expressions on a set theme. Retreat participants will help us craft this year’s all-important contest prompt.

At the same time, Sarah Kent said, students will be deepening their connection to nature, setting aside technology for a few hours and breathing in the fresh air, high above the busy city, the reclaimed Mill Creek, and the rumbling traffic on I-75.

The retreat will be held mostly outdoors, so participants should dress for the weather, with warm layers and sturdy footwear; if it’s a really nasty day, we’ll use the Nature Center and the New Prospect Baptist Church gymnasium for large group activities. Masks will be required when indoors, recommended for all when outdoors.

The event is free, but space is limited and advance registration is required. Participants must submit a liability waiver and media release signed by a parent or guardian (we’ll send you those forms after you sign up).