It’s so easy to tell yourself no. “No, I’m not good enough or smart enough to make a real difference in the world. No, I don’t have the right skills. No, I don’t have the time.” Saying, “Yes, I can do it”—well, that’s a little harder.

“No” is one of the first words a child learns. According to Stanford University researchers, it ranks right up there with “mommy,” “daddy,” “bye” and “hi.” But the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Fall 2022 Ignite Retreat, taking place Oct. 7-9 in Black Mountain, N.C., is all about saying “yes.”

“Yes” to the challenges of making the world a better place. “Yes” to the person that you are. And “yes” to the person you want to become.

Just ask Cecilia Trotter, a graduate of the University of Mississippi. She attended two Ignite Retreats as well as the foundation’s Summer 2019 Study Abroad program in Prague. “You never really know where life will take you, and the Ignite Retreat helped me want to say yes to more things in my life and take more risks,” Trotter said. “Risks are big for me, too—sometimes I really like to play it safe.”

Cecilia Trotter

Most of us do. But when students leave the Ignite Retreat and head back home to their campuses, anything feels possible. Led by experienced coaches and facilitators who have dedicated their lives to building a better world, the weekend-long event offers workshops in three tracks: Personal, Problem and Project. It’s also an opportunity to surround yourself with like-minded young changemakers who care deeply about helping others—and cheering on their peers. They won’t think you’re weird because you’re passionate about social change. They’ll just think you’re one of them.

Ready to say yes a lot more often than you say no? Click here to learn more about the Ignite Retreat. Meanwhile, check out what other past attendees have said about their retreat experience and how it changed their lives:

“You’re going to enter into a space where you have the opportunity to network, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to experience something great that you’ve never experienced before. It puts you in a place you’ve never been before…It forces you to be adventurous.”—India Larry, Shenandoah University

India Larry

“The Sullivan Foundation and the Ignite Retreat help you to find what you want to do. It’s very personalized, so if you’re just at the beginning, they help you figure out what you want to do with your life. If you’re more advanced and already know what you want to do, they also help you. They help you achieve whatever you want, and the people are amazing.”—Joao Victor Silva, Bluefield College

“It’s such an open community. The majority of the feelings I spilled to people—I could never say these things to my parents or siblings. The fact that you can trust people you’ve only known for 48 hours over people you’ve known for your entire life is beautiful … We’re basically in the middle of nowhere. You’re at peace and one with nature. All you focus on is growing and helping each other. There’s no competition. Everyone wants each other to grow. We’re looking at issues from different angles. We want to change the world.”—Jaida Thomas, Columbia College

Ignite Retreat coach Sanah Javani leads a workshop session.

“An activity that particularly stood out to me was about empathic listening. Students formed groups, and one person in the group shared a problem in their life that they had. We were encouraged to ask ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions rather than ‘why’ questions to really understand the problem. I found this activity very valuable as most of the time we listen to respond rather than listen to understand and empathize.”—Angy Aguilar, Elon University

“I’ve learned so much. I took the Project track. I learned how to pitch a project and come up with a prototype for a project. I learned about the things you’re going to go through when you try to start something up. I learned to overcome small talk … and had deep conversations with people that I really enjoyed.”—Jaden Grimes, Campbell University

Amaya Liles

“I’ve been on this personal journey of self-love and mental health. Attending the Ignite Retreat turned out to be one of my best decisions. I was really nervous. I never go to retreats or conferences because being around new people gives me a lot of anxiety. But being able to be with people who think like I think and care about things I care about has really brought something out of me and made me really think about what I want to do and has gotten me started on how I want to do it.”— Amaya Liles, Columbia College

“It’s an excellent experience … Not only does it incorporate meeting new people and making new friends and having a fun time, but it’s also very practical. you can discover your passions and then turn them into a project that really helps other people, and that’s what’s important.”—Blaise Gourley, North Carolina Wesleyan College

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