Kate Reeves, a junior at New Canaan High school and member of the FPCNC high school youth group, was awarded the Wilburn Fellowship on May 16 for her work with classmate Chase Pelligrini in forming the Fairfield County Youth Empowerment Conference.
The goal of the Conference was for all participants to learn why people think differently while simultaneously advocating for their own views. In Kate’s words, “We were inspired to promote a positive forum for discussion because of the prevalence of the divisive conversation we see and hear daily on social media, in the news, and even among our own friends or at the family dinner table. We believe there are so many topics that are imperative to address from climate change to gun control, and none of these problems will be able to be solved if we don’t raise a generation that feels comfortable overcoming disagreement based on the broader understanding that we all have a universal desire to do what is best for humanity. Nothing will change if we seclude ourselves in conversations with people who think like us, which is why we aimed to bring teens of different economic backgrounds, races, sides of the political spectrum, genders, and sexual identities to discuss our thoughts on 4 issues that are extremely relevant right now.”
Kate and Chase are keeping up contact through a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FairfieldCountyYouthEmpowermentConference/ , and partnered with their friend, Meera Srinivasan, who made a website called the Positivity Initiative (https://www.thepositivityinitiative.org/) which aims to give a virtual platform for the types of discussions held at the conference.
The Wilburn Fellowship is inspired by the life and continuing legacy of the Reverend Dr. Gary A. Wilburn. Reverend Wilburn was the highly esteemed senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan from 1995 until 2007 when he was diagnosed with ALS. After a courageous battle with the dreaded disease, Gary passed away in 2010.