Six Lake County High School seniors traveled to New York City earlier this month to learn about restorative approaches to dismantling disproportionality.

The students, all members of a LCHS student-run racial justice organization called Padres & Jovenes Unidos, attended a Youth Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality summit. They attended workshops and lectures, and networked with like-minded students from across the country.

The trip was made possible by a semester of fundraising by the students, including arranging a taco night and seeking donations and assistance from local businesses, the Department of Human Services and the City of Leadville,

“I think a lot of kids came back from New York feeling very motivated and inspired,” Padres & Jovenes Unidos group leader Stephanie Radilla told the Herald.

Some students attended a workshop called “Bridging the Gap” where the facilitator had participants see how varied life experiences can change interpretation of a single scenario.

Others attended a youth-led workshop on promoting social justice through creative writing. Padres & Jovenes Unidos members wrote poems based upon two words they had previously identified as terms they associated with school.

Students also had a chance to explore the city. They ate New York pizza, rode the subway and visited the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Central Park. A few had the opportunity to see “Be More Chill” on Broadway.

Radilla believes the conference will help direct Padres & Jovenes Unidos members’ advocacy work for the 2019-2020 school year.

LCHS student Pablo Mascarenas hopes to focus on the tracking of “problem kids” through the school district while graduate Bianca Gonzales plans to focus on advocating for immigrant rights at Georgetown University next year.

“The conference made me more aware of how many people are passionate about restorative justice,” Gonzales said. “A lot of people outside of Leadville are dedicated to this cause.”

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