FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2020 UNITY Virtual Conference offers hope to Native youth
UNITY to wrap up its first-ever virtual conference with speakers, awards, and music
July 22, 2020 – Mesa, AZ – Native youth around the country are raving about a virtual conference designed to empower them and give them hope during a time of uncertainty. Since late last month, United National Indian Youth, Inc. (UNITY) has connected with Native American and Alaska Native youth in a way no one imagined. UNITY’s final general session, of its first-ever virtual conference, will happen on Thursday, July 23, which includes prayer, sacred teachings, music, cultural dancing, and encouraging messages from Native youth leaders and tribal leaders. Thursday’s line up includes special appearances by Grammy award-winning artist Jewel, Grammy nominee and Navajo recording artist Radmilla Cody, Tlingit entrepreneur and author Alyssa London, and more.
Participants from the first two general sessions responded favorably to the content, with comments like:
“This is the best alternative to keep everyone safe and healthy while our nation is facing this pandemic.”
“I love everything!”
The upcoming virtual conference final general session will feature Native youth and includes vocalists and instrumentalists in a Music is My Medicine virtual concert, playing on the conference theme “Healing Starts Here.” This exciting final session will also include awards presentations for Youth Council of the Year, Advisor of the Year, Alumni of the Year, scholarship winners, business plan competition winners, a panel with first-responders, and messages from the National Congress of American Indians, the Democratic National Committee, and the National Museum of the American Indian. The event will conclude with a cultural showcase and talent show.
“The UNITY virtual conference has been such a valuable experience for us. Providing a safe space for Native youth to connect and share during this time is immeasurable,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY Executive Director. “The final session will be a true celebration of our tribal legacies and recognition of our amazing Native youth leaders who are working hard to bring about positive changes in their communities.”
UNITY youth favorites are back, including Master of Ceremonies Chance Rush, DJ Marcus Guinn aka emcee one, the UNITY Drum hosted by Michael Killer and Junior Sierra, the UNITY Fire hosted by Hunter Genia, and a trainer session featuring Rush, Juanita Toledo, Robert Johnston, and LoVina Louie.
UNITY has partnered with tribally-owned Gila River Broadcasting Corporation to produce and air its final general session. Members of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona will have the opportunity to watch the live broadcast on their local network channel.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Jewel went from a girl who grew up with no running water on an Alaskan homestead, to a homeless teenager in San Diego, to an award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist who released one of the best-selling debuts of all time, performing in genres ranging from folk and pop to standards and children’s music. Throughout her career, Jewel has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, has been nominated for numerous awards. Mental health and mindfulness has been her lifelong passion, and she offers free mindfulness exercises and an online mental health community at JewelNeverBroken.com. 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of her multi-platinum debut album, “Pieces of You” with an exclusive anniversary package of the album to be released later this year.
Radmilla Cody is a Grammy-nominated musician who has won multiple Native American Music Awards, is one of NPR’s 50 great voices, 46th Miss Navajo Nation, a Black History Maker honoree, and an advocate against domestic abuse and violence. She is the subject of the award-winning documentary “Hearing Radmilla,” which explores her journey as an activist and international performer.
Alyssa London is a former Miss Alaska USA, a member of the Tlingit Nation, and cultural ambassador for Sealaska Heritage Institute. She is also the founder and CEO of Culture Stories, broadcast nationally on the PBS-affiliated channel FNX – First Nations Experience – reaching more than 65 million households across the country. Her mission is to increase awareness and understanding of unique cultures around the world. She does this through storytelling and coaching, helping to develop greater acceptance and understanding between communities. As an entrepreneur, on-camera host, motivational speaker and business owner, Alyssa inspires women to realize their dreams of business ownership as a means to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. Through motivational speaking, she inspires youth to achieve higher education and pursue their goals, no matter how big they are.
Founded in 1976, United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native Youth. UNITY’s mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 14 -24, and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY’s network currently includes 320 affiliated youth councils in 36 states. Youth Councils are sponsored by Tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, urban centers, and others.