By Michell Diaz-Flores

The IST youth summit was a two-day virtual event hosted by Changeist on June 4th. The theme of the event was healing and action together. Changeist is a program taught by youth for the youth to be educated on local/global issues in the areas of Stockton and Los Angeles. This year Changeist hosted their first IST youth summit that included special guest speakers, workshops, and raffles! Some of the workshops hosted in the summit were Invest in Youth Coalition: Young and Empowered, Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities: Mental Health, Changemaker Scholars: Growth Mindset & Leadership Development, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, and so much more. The guest speakers were Shari Davis, GaTa, Colette Pichon Battle, and Yumi Nu. In this space, highly motivated young leaders came together to create a space of learning and community.   

Guest Speaker: GaTa  

One of the four guest speakers in the IST: Youth Summit was GaTa who is a rapper and professional hype man who discusses being bipolar. He first opens up about this topic of him being bipolar in the show Dave on episode 5. He received a lot of positive feedback by connecting with his audience when sharing his story since it’s something that others can relate to. GaTa expresses how it’s important to talk about your problems so there can be solutions.   

Cultural factors play a significant role when defining mental disorders in minority communities. For example, in the African American community, there has been a historical trauma regarding the medical field causing this to become a barrier when seeking help and causing an increase of mental health concerns to occur. A lot of young people from minority communities have a hard time seeking out help since it’s a topic that tends to cause people to shy away from it. Living in the 21st century we can all see how mental health has been given more attention and GaTa opening up about his disorder has shown a shift of how mental health has become a center of priority for the well-being compared to past decades. “Always be yourself, and remain true to who you are” is the key message GaTa has for young folks. He also makes a valuable point when it comes to the people one surrounds yourself with. He gives the example that if you feel like you’re the most educated person in your social group then you are in the wrong groups. It’s important to be around people who are more educated than you so you can grow and learn from them.    

The biggest mistake that GaTa mentions is that he made throughout his career was always being caught up in the moment and the biggest obstacle that he has faced is the judgment of those who don’t fully understand his disorder. Those who don’t understand this disorder might even see him differently since the stigma towards any mental disorder still exists. GaTa enjoys talking about mental health by sharing his story and believes that your mind has the power to make you successful.   


Guest Speaker: Shari Davis   

Shari Davis is a leader for the Participatory Budgeting Project, 2019 Obama foundation fellow, and certified Ted Talker. Some challenges that Shari Davis faced when being a youth leader were being identified as a young person causing the treatment to be different. It was challenging to get people to see and hear what Shari had to say instead they were seeing something different. When discussing building power towards change Davis says “you can go really fast alone and you can go very far together.” Making individual choices may be easy to follow but when working with a bigger network such as your community may cause a greater impact. Having your network should involve the people around you. In our diverse community, we have folks from different backgrounds and ages. In where we can learn new aspects and get challenged by those individuals.    

The Participatory Project isn’t run by just one person instead it’s run by three black women. This project isn’t run just by one person it has a different unique approach in where the decisions aren’t based on one individually instead it’s team-based. The purpose of this organization is to engage community members in making decisions that relate to budgets to decide how public money can spend to meet their needs. The project was able to happen because of the people in the community and how they notice that money can be used for other important causes.   

Attending this event was a memorable experience due to the knowledge I gained from the workshops, guest speakers and peers. I really  enjoyed having that freedom to select the workshops that best benefited myself. The best moment of this summit was learning more about the guest speakers because as a community member I was able to learn about different topics discussed through their own perspective and the positive impact they or their actions have caused. Since this is the first summit Changeist has hosted I hope that there will be a second summit hosted!