As an MSW student, this past summer, I was able to help out at the Changing Systems Youth Summit by being a support for interns to refer to if they needed help facilitating or explaining concepts during the summit.  I mostly observed during the summit, and to say the least, I was blown away by both the interns and the participants.

I was very impressed by the insights that both the interns and participants brought to the table regarding the issue of gun violence. They were able to quickly catch on to systems thinking and system dynamics concepts and were able to apply a systemic perspective to the issue.

“It was amazing to see youth begin to understand gun violence as a much larger issue than someone just holding up a gun.”

They were able to understand that there is more than just one perspective of the issue and that they should look at all sides of the story when analyzing a complex social justice issue like gun violence. I got to see them develop into leaders and experts in systems thinking at a very fast rate, and it was just incredible to see their dedication and hard work come to fruition at the end of the summit.

By being involved, I was able to see the impact that the summit had on youth. What they took from the summit related to more than just how to handle the issue of gun violence. I saw youth who were eager to take the tools learned at the summit and apply them to their own personal issues, and I also saw those that were excited to take these concepts and make an impact on the community. The summit exposed them to systems thinking and system dynamics concepts and tools, and these enabled them to look at the issue of gun violence in a more complex way than they could before.

“I believe that the summit empowered them to handle large complex issues, and I believe that they left knowing that they could make a difference not only in their everyday lives, but also in large social justice issues in their communities.”