Isaiah Taylor empties his pockets as he looks for the list of panelists for Saturday’s Youth Activist Conference.
As the 19-year-old begins to sort through the scraps of paper, fellow conference organizer Sarah Whites-Koditschek chimes in playfully.
“This is how we’ve been organizing everything,” she said. “It’s kind of funny. There are these little pieces of paper laying on the floor all around my bed.”
Though their methods might be a bit loose, their lofty goals are gaining support in Columbia.
“I always wanted there to be some sort of community of young people motivated by progressive culture,” Whites-Koditschek, 19, said.
Motivated by that aspiration, Whites-Koditschek and a handful of other volunteers are holding the Youth Activist Conference beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at MU’s Memorial Union. Organizers said they hope the conference, which will feature six workshops, will spur the creation of the Progressive Youth Alliance of Columbia.
“I don’t feel like I have a community of other kids that are progressive,” organizer Saxon Brown, 14, said. “I hope this will help me find a group of kids that can come together with something in common.”
The alliance would serve as a proactive group taking on projects such as river cleanups and as a base for other organizations to contact.
“This will be a centralized group of young people that other organizations can get in touch with,” Taylor said. “Young people aren’t plugged in, and their energy isn’t used by groups that would find it helpful.”
The free conference is targeted toward youths age 12 to 19, but there are no age restrictions.
“We’re not going to turn people away,” Brown said. “But we don’t want adults showing up unless they feel they really have no other answer.”
Event publicity, led by James Fitzmauric, 17, has included sign-up sheets at Hickman High School’s end-of-the-year events and at the Twilight Festival and fliers throughout Columbia.
Whites-Koditschek said 65 people have confirmed they will attend, but wants to have between 75 and 100.
“I’m pretty focused on the numbers right now, because it’s kind of a gamble,” she said. “There’s always the possibility that people just don’t care, and that’s kind of scary.”