Attending You(th) Already Know! as an Adult Ally

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by Amanda Rodhe

For the past three years, Day One has been hosting the You(th) Already Know! gathering. Bringing together teens and young adults from across the city, the event works to build community and share knowledge around ending intimate partner violence.

Adult allies can attend, but only if they agree to certain guidelines. We’re asked to do something we’re not always accustomed to when interacting with those who are younger than us: take a back seat, listen rather than speak, and earn—not demand—respect.

As an adult, my role at the gathering was to be an observer and an ally. So what is my role in the post-event discussion?

To me, the most incredible thing about the event was that adults didn’t need to contribute anything to the discussion. These young people did not require anyone to speak for them. They brought their full selves to the event and were willing to listen intently, share generously, and tackle the big ideas and issues facing their generation and society at large.

From the Black Lives Matter wall, where people of color were encouraged to share stories from their lives; to the sessions that ran the gamut from vision boarding to consent and coping with rejection to self defense; to the performances and poetry readings from some of the attendees, the adults faded seamlessly into the background. It was the young people in the room who took charge and shared their truths.

They were not afraid to be vulnerable and honest. They did not shy away from lively debate. But they did it with the kind of respect and heart that a lot of adults could stand to incorporate into their daily interactions.

I could continue to share my impressions. But in the spirit of the event, I’ll instead turn it over to some of the attendees, who spoke about what they learned, enjoyed, or will take away from the event.

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Tristan (age 16) - I learned the different methods of self defense, and how to profess and establish my demeanor in case I need to defend myself.

Winston (age 19) - I learned not to judge people off their appearance or where they’re from.

Camilla (age 16) - I learned that curse words have a deeper meaning to them and have a longer history. And it might have changed now, because of however we are now, but it still has an impact. As for favorite thing? I really liked the vision board that we made, and how we see our futures and how we want to set goals.

Jordan (age 17) - We learned a lot about consent. Even though it might not sound cool, it must be communicated. That’s one thing I would take with me and share with my friends. I also learned the importance of language. Language holds power, and to be mindful of how you articulate certain things.

This year’s You(th) Already Know! Conference was a celebration of the power inherent in open, honest, respectful conversation. As these young people continue to have important discussions around ending intimate partner violence, these principles will guide them in the right direction.

Day One has already begun organizing another gathering for 2020. Keep an eye out for further communications around that event, and we look forward to seeing you there!

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