Encircle hosts free IGNITE summit to help LGBTQ youth find community in Utah

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Encircle, a center in Utah that supports LBGTQ teens, is hosting its first summit, IGNITE, on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at UVU. (Photo courtesy of Encircle)

In just nine months, Encircle has created a community in the heart of Provo, Utah.

The youth and family resource center — which opened on Valentine’s Day earlier this year — helps LGBTQ youth and their families get the support they need and build relationships. Now the center is reaching out its arms to encircle more youth in the state of Utah with its first ever IGNITE summit.

“The main purpose of this is that the LGBTQ group that we are bringing together, which possibly feels the most isolated out of any youth in the state, the idea is to bring them together and to realize that they aren’t alone,” said Stephenie Larsen, founder of Encircle.

IGNITE invites LGBTQ youth between the ages of 14 and 18 to join them on Saturday, Dec. 2, but Encircle will not turn away any supportive, accepting youth from the summit — even if they themselves aren’t LGBTQ. Parents, school staff and administration workers are also welcome to the conference, specifically during the breakout sessions from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. when there are classes geared towards adults.

During the summit, there will be breakout sessions, art projects, storytelling, speakers and an hour-long coding class with Pluralsight. The parents breakout sessions will cover topics such as how to support LBGTQ youth, what things are helpful and what things might be hurtful to say to LGBTQ youth.

“The main purpose of this is that the LGBTQ group that we are bringing together, which possibly feels the most isolated out of any youth in the state, the idea is to bring them together and to realize that they aren’t alone.” — Stephenie Larsen, Encircle founder

“We’re basically taking Encircle and what we do weekly in Encircle and bringing our program to IGNITE,” Larsen said.

Senator Jim Dabakis will give the keynote address, and other community leaders will visit the conference. Even Dan Reynolds, Imagine Dragon’s frontman who organized the LoveLoud Festival in Orem earlier this year, will attend the conference via Skype. Plus, Reynolds and Encircle have a few surprises for the conference-goers.

At the end of the night, IGNITE invites everyone in the community to join attendees for the free concert. Singer Tyler Glenn will perform as will Foreign Figures, a Utah-based R&B pop group.

“We hope we can make them feel loved and important,” Larsen said. “They have a lot to offer the world, and they have a lot of people who care about them.”

The entire event is free, including the community concert in the evening.

“We don’t ever want a child not to come because they can’t afford it,” Larsen said.

IGNITE is on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on UVU’s campus. It will be held in the Classroom Building (CB) at UVU, 815 College Dr. in Orem, Utah. Learn more at encircletogether.org.

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Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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