In true UCAN fashion, on Thursday, June 30 a special celebratory ceremony at Dave & Busters in Chicago for more than 120 UCAN youth from the Diermeier Future Leaders Now (DFLN) program was entirely youth-led and planned by members of the DFLN Youth Advisory Board.
Close to 100 friends and family members of the DFLN participants kicked off the event by watching a special TED talk titled “What Adults Can Learn from Kids” and led by Adora Svitak, which inspired the group. Svitak, who worked to debunk the notion that thinking or acting “childishly” should always hold a negative connotation, mentioned how kids’ rose-colored outlook on the world can often lead to wild new concepts and keep expectations high when planning for the future.
The ceremony’s emcee, Shanon Seaberry, warmly welcomed his peers to the stage to give testimonials about what they’d learned through their Saturdays spent in DFLN programming. Their speeches were followed by keynote speaker Aaliyah Stewart, who after tragically losing her two brothers to gun violence, has traveled the country to urge her peers to choose peace through the ASW Foundation. Aaliyah’s efforts have funded several financial scholarships for graduating seniors in her community. She said: “I felt like God had put me through so much because my testimony was going to be a light for someone.”
Other noted speakers included Jeff and Julie Diermeier, whose incredible generosity and dedication to UCAN led to the inception of the DFLN program and curriculum three years ago. They spoke of how proud they are of the youth for dedicating their time to bettering themselves and becoming leaders to other young members in their communities.
“The best way to help those in need is to help them obtain an education. This, for the most part, is geared to the coming generation. For those who are not able to help themselves because of illness or circumstances beyond their control, they need and deserve compassion. The result is our focus on kids, education and health,” said Jeff.
The youth thanked them with a framed photo signed by each member of the Youth Advisory Council. The event concluded with a delicious fajita dinner, socializing and playing video games. To learn more about DFLN and how it is building future leaders click here.