BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The State Leadership Conference is Monday and Tuesday in Bismarck — but unlike many conferences in our area, it’s completely run by students.

The North Dakota Association of Student Councils (NDASC) hosts two conferences each year: one in April, and another in December. This week’s conference is the Middle-Level Conference –which means it is run by middle school student-elected officers. Students say this conference is a way to discuss topics they feel are important to them.

“Everyone gets their voice heard everywhere,” explained Middle School student, Ava Folk. “It’s not just one state it’s a whole country coming together and they can kind of get their voices heard so that they are not silent. They always talk about making your voice heard and advocating for something, and with this, you can.”

“It gives really unforgettable experiences,” stated ND Middle-Level Student Council President, Brooklyn Nygaard. “I know I remember so good when I was elected. You meet so many people. I’m still in touch with so many people like through social media and everything, and you learn a lot about different topics. Like when I ran, I focused on suicide prevention.”

These students are even discussing some topics that adults are focusing on as well — like suicide prevention and vaping. Students say it’s a way to prove to adults that kids can help with problems the nation is facing, and provide their own solutions.

“I feel like sometimes us as kids can be underestimated about what we can do,” stated student Bernice Debertin, “especially in school. So, as student council members, I feel like we can speak to a whole group of kids and adults and say, ‘we can also handle this type of stuff’, and help our country and our state with these problems,”

This year, 29 North Dakota middle schools participated in the conference — and this number is only expected to increase as time goes on.