Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit Fosters Understanding, Acceptance, and Inclusion
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined more than 200 Central Florida LGBTQ+ youth, community members and allies for the annual Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit (OYES) on Nov. 3, 2018 at Valencia College.
Now in its fifth year, OYES is a free, community-focused event that brings together residents, businesses and local elected officials to discuss and find solutions for the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth in Central Florida. The mission of OYES is to empower the local LGBTQ+ community with resources and education to bring about understanding, acceptance and inclusion.
Mayor Jacobs provided welcome remarks, highlighting the current generation’s strong connection with their community.
“I am so impressed by and proud of this generation. You are eager to understand the issues that impact you, your peers and our community as a whole,” Mayor Jacobs said. “You’re not afraid to take action and to stand up for what you believe in. No matter how old or young you are, I know that it can be difficult to feel empowered and be a leader in the face of hatred and adversity. However, instead of letting hate win, you are uniting our community in an unprecedented way.”
The Summit, presented by the City of Orlando and District 4 City of Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan, featured more than 20 youth-centric breakout sessions, as well as a keynote panel of LGBTQ+ business leaders who discussed their career paths, successes and failures along the way.
The Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations that provide services to LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 to 24, coordinated this year’s Summit. The Zebra Coalition assists young people facing homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families, and physical, sexual and drug abuse with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability.
Photo Caption: Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined LGBTQ+ advocates from the Zebra Coalition and residents from across Central Florida at the 2018 Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit.