Largest Annual Teen Summit gathers attendees from all over Wisconsin

By Kaili Berg

     Sunday, February 23 through Tuesday, February 25, the largest annual Teen Summit to End Domestic Abuse was held at Chula Vista in Wisconsin Dells.  The Ho-Chunk Nation Domestic Abuse Division sponsored 38 Ho-Chunk Nation youth and staff to attend.

     February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Youth, parents, educators, activists, and mentors from all over Wisconsin came to learn about healthy relationships, teen dating violence (TDV), and sexual assault within a broader anti-oppression framework.

     Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle provided the opening of Monday’s events. He highlighted and acknowledged the Ho-Chunk lands in which the summit was held.

     Following President WhiteEagle’s opening, Elliot Funmaker and his Ho-Chunk dance crew performed Ho-Chunk dances and educated the audience about them.

     Keynote speakers addressed the many intersections of root causes of violence. Youth attended workshops that had at least one teen co-facilitator and a topic that intersected with healthy relationships, TDV, and sexual assault.

     There were two types of round tables at the Teen Summit - youth roundtables and adult roundtables. The youth led roundtables were spaces that have been intentionally created to allow for youth, under the age of 21, to connect their peers on a specific topic they have experienced with or are curious about. There was only one trusted adult in each session, and all conversations were confidential. These spaces were specifically for dialogue, self-reflection, and relationship building.

     The youth also attended affinity groups. This included movement-building and worked together with those who identified as Hmong or Southeast Asian, Latin, Native American, African American, and LGBTQ.

     Attendees learned new strategies for successful prevention and education on teen issues.