28th Annual Walk In My Shoes: Annual BRIDGES Youth Conference
Friday, March 3rd, 2017 at University of California, Irvine

Empowering Youth Leaders
Walk In My Shoes, OC Human Relations’ Annual BRIDGES Youth Conference, brings together students from across Orange County to explore issues of identity and culture, develop leadership skills, and learn from examples of successful youth activism. The goal is to empower and mobilize students to work towards creating positive social change. In keeping with the direction of the BRIDGES Safe & Respectful Schools Program, an emphasis is placed on providing students with workshops that illustrate community organizing and opportunities to get involved in making a difference in their schools, communities, and the world. This year’s conference theme was: “Healing Our People through Empowerment (H.O.P.E).”

 “I had a lot of fun meeting new people and learning more about stereotypes, abuse, and social issues.”

A Look at Walk In My Shoes 2017
This year’s conference was held at University of California, Irvine and was hosted by Dr. Thomas A. Parham, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
The opening ceremony featured a welcome from Dr. Ramen Talesh, Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Student Life & Leadership and Alison Edwards, Deputy Director of OC Human Relations, and included a special recognition of the conference’s title sponsor, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, a long-time supporter of Walk In My Shoes.
The session ended with special keynote speaker, TyRon Jackson, founder and president of Operation Warm Wishes (O.W.W.) an organization that helps and serves the homeless, youth and families in need throughout Orange County and the world. As a homeless and bullied teen, TyRon found motivation to pursue his passion to inspire, motivate and encourage all those who are in need, regardless they are and where they are in their lives.

“I feel moved and motivated.”

Walk In My Shoes was emceed by members of OC Human Relations’ student internship program, the Human Relations Ambassadors Program (HRAP): Emily Gonzalez (Western High School) and Abraham Vicente (Western High School), who emphasized the value of being involved in positive community change and leadership as a young person.
After the opening session, participants were invited to attend over 12 different workshops offered in three successive time slots. The workshops were presented by high school students, college students, community educators, and field expert professionals. After the workshop breakout sessions, students enjoyed lunch and performances by Nkauj Hmoob Kawm Ntawm Siab (Hmong Girls/Women in Higher Education), a college student choreographed Hmong dance group and Cali Alliance, a rap trio who aspire to inspire and give the youth guidance through lyrics and poetry.
Each student received a free Walk In My Shoes Youth Conference t-shirt, sponsored by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.

 “I’m so glad I got invited to come along and experience all of the unique workshops. I really learned so much and gained a great perspective.”

Community Support

  • More than 600 students and educators from 21 Orange County high schools attended.
  • More than 10 community organizations hosted workshop sessions and shared professional insight.
  • Over 15 OCHR staff and BRIDGES Human Relations Ambassador Program Participants collaborated on event setup, registration, emceeing, leading lunch, and hosting and presenting workshops. Additionally, Board Members and corporate volunteers from Kia Motors America and Orange County’s Credit Union supported throughout the day.
  • Thank you to Board Members and Commissioners who were present as well: Destiny Lopez, Sue Reese, Minzah Malik, Mark Miller, and Frank Marmolejo.

 “I like how everybody can know how each other feels, how they can feel and what makes them different.”

Valued Partnerships
Generous funding for Walk In My Shoes was provided by donations from: Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Dr. Greg McQuater, and our host, University of California, Irvine, Office Student Affairs.

“Empowering for these young adults.” – Teacher