What Our Participants are Saying
Jaime Huff, Manager of Government Affairs for Southern California Edison was considering a recommendation to support our work. Later, while tidying up our conference room, I discovered a dusty photo scrap book about a class and their trip to Capitol Focus in 1997. The cover had a young lady that looked a lot like Jaime Huff. Was it really Jaime?
It was Jaime Huff! In 1997, Jaime and her high school classmates came to Sacramento and participted in the Capitol Focus program. Afterwards, they made a photo scrap book back then and gave a copy to us. Jaime called the Capitol Focus experience instrumental to her career in public service Jaime Huff graduated from high school, got her BA at American University in Washington DC, and then went on to get her law degree from Baylor. Jaime Huff has worked in Congress and for the California Legislature before landing here with Southern Califorina Edison.
Here is what she said about Capitol Focus:
“Capitol Focus connects California youth to state government in ways that no other program can match. Their commitment to educate, engage and empower youth, particularly those in underserved communities, creates an early path to state government for emerging leaders. I participated in Capitol Focus in high school and credit the exposure to Sacramento as the reason I ultimately went into public service.”
Thanks to Jaime Huff's recommendation, Southern California Edison agreed to support the California Center and Capitol Focus. More importantly, thanks to all of you who participated in Capitol Focus before and after Jaime Huff did. Jaime Huff now serves on our Advisory Committee with several other prestigious persons who have been touched by our programs in one way or another. We hope their stories and yours contribute to a robust body of support for our statewide programs. Thanks to all of you!
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Sompong, a youth member of TCE's President's Youth Council, reflects on his night at Tyler Perry's House for the Black Men in Hollywood event. For him the night was filled with overwhelming emotion and a new found support system.Read More
While I’m at home eating I received a text message from Sophonya, representative of the President Youth Council. I called her up. Sophonya told me if I was busy on the 26th of February 2014, I knew she was going to surprise me with something, she’s known for that. This time it was different, I remember telling her and doctor Ross on my vision paper that my passion was filmmaking. She asked if I wanted to go to Tyler Perry’s house. I nodded yes, in a way where you nod yes when your older sis says to don’t stay up late because your out with friends. Then reality soaked in, I’m actually going to Tyler Perry’s house. Took one last bite of my chicken and told my family with excitement. When I got to Los Angeles, The Sompong, Timothy, Albert, and Charles (STAC) team was looking sharp. Since we’re invited to an event where there’s a house full of celebrities, we felt like one, talked and dressed the same. The item that stood out of the STAC team was the black rose we wore on the left side of our chest where our heart is located, symbolizing, “Sons And Brothers.”
Traffic anticipated us, if seeing these celebrities for the first time isn’t going to kill us, the wait will. The further up we went through these Hollywood Hills, the bigger the house grew. The STAC team had to enter two gates In order to see Tyler’s mansion, we finally got to his place. I’m seeing celebrities coming out of limbos, taking pictures, ushers escorting us out the car. I look to my right in slow motion; my vision was shooting at 50 frames per second. I saw Tyler Perry coming out of his mansion. Tania, the head of the media for the California Endowment introduced me to Mr. Perry, I shook his huge hands and stood there looking at him with my mouth open at awe. A fly almost flew in my mouth. All of a sudden more celebrities kept on coming. Soon I saw Dr. Ross, thanked him, and gave him a big hug for this opportunity. He gave me the best advice and said something like, “This is your opportunity to shine take advantage of this opportunity,” it stayed in my head but I didn’t soak it in, I was still a nervous wreck.
Seeing these actors where star striking, I didn’t know how to approach them. Even if I did I would be speaking gibberish. I started over thinking things, anticipated every movement I made. This one time I went up to Sydney Poiter and handed him the Black Sons And Brothers Rose, this man had the most respect in the room, I can feel all the love other celebrities handed him. While I was handing Sydney, “The Sons Of Brothers Rose,” I forgot that I was human again. I shook his hands, and gave him the rose. Afterwards I spoke in some kind of nervous language I didn’t understand. I smiled then left the room. I failed again, that was strike two, third strike and I’m out. What’s wrong with me?
Everyone headed down the ballroom where, “The Black Men of Hollywood,” event began, Diana Ross as the MC host. The black rose is set down on every table, waiting to be picked up and represented. All celebrities were seated in the same exact room the California Endowment and me was in. All of a sudden Diana called Dr. Ross’s name to come upon the stage to share a couple of words, along he brought me, and Timothy with him. Dr. Ross spoke on behalf of our struggles and what we’re doing currently to accomplish it.
Dr. Ross brought up the Sons And Brothers campaign; this initiative fell under my umbrella. Dr. Ross with his power, knowledge capacity, and generosity to give back to low-income communities of color, made me understand that there is hope. Every cycle you can think of can be broken. This initiative will help violent low-income communities grant access to more successful people in the field. The initiative will help provide more resource and materials to enhance young brothers of color grow. My parents struggled during the War Against Communism in South East Asia; they had to escaped tragedy in order for me, and my siblings to live a better life in America. Everything being said, the black rose worn on the right side of our chest represents every struggle our parents and relatives sacrificed so that generations before us can live the American Dream. It’s to accept our past and honor our future generation.
Dr. Ross, Timothy and I were up on stage; all celebrities’ eyes were aimed on us. I’m use to watching these actors on stage, not the other way around. I felt nervous. This was either a breaking, or a turning point in my life, maybe both. Soon all of my nerves were gone, I felt emotional. Having lost both my parents and my eldest brother in a fire due to natural causes, possibly violence, begged for their presence to be on stage physically with me. Images of tragic event would randomly appear. I’ve worked hard and come this far in life, they’re not here to see me meet all of these successful people. I tried to hold in my tears, trying not to break down in front of the stage, but it was noticeable.
The STAC team and the California Endowment was there to support me, I finally let it all pour out. Albert, Charles came to the back and crack a couple of jokes, we laughed, I felt normal again. I went back to the table there was David Washington, and Tania, they gave me their numbers for support, they told me to call them whenever I need to vent out anything.
Furthermore, I don’t know what happened, I guess all of the support from all of my mentors got into my head. My brain was on steroids. I accepted the fact that they’re here with me spiritually, I grew strong mentally. Timothy and I started conversation with most of the celebrities in the room. I went up Terry Crews, paraphrasing lines from his script; we shared a couple of laughs and got to know each other. John Singleton handed us his phone number. I met a guy that grew up in the same neighborhood I did. He was from Richmond, Ca, raised in the iron triangle. He now works for paramount. Diana Ross taped my shoulders, which led to small talks, and a selfie photo.
One celebrity I felt stood out the most out of all, I’ve seen him in other movies like, GI Joe, The Mummy, and I now remembered he was casted in the show “Lost.” Adewale approached me, and handed me his business card. He approached me in a settle authentic way, he knew what I was going through, and it looked like he was willing to help if anything. I found out that he also lost both of his parents all at once. I remember the one advice he said, “In hard times like these, you either cower, or use your sorrow to make you stronger,” what he said touched every nerve in my body. I felt the realization. I looked in his eyes and I didn’t see a royal celebrity, I saw myself. I saw tears of pain, and sorrow, but I also saw fire, strength, and resilience that over powered all his pain. Regardless of our different appearance, race, size, and skin color, I seen myself in the future with his mental state. I shed tears while talking to him, gave him a hug, and then felt inspired.
The night was late; everyone started to depart from Tyler Perry’s house. I was still at the, “pinch me I’m dreaming” phase, everything that went on that night was real. Before I left Tyler’s house, I approached him and said, “thanks for the invite, I’m sorry I froze up earlier when I shook your hands, it was such an honor.” Tyler said, “it’s a pleasure meeting you too, after you graduate from SFSU make sure you call me or any of the people here, they know me. I’ll hook you up.” I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I left the house floating on cloud nine. I’m all set for my future, now all I have to worry about is graduating from San Francisco State University. I finally soaked in Dr. Ross advice by the end of the day and conquered my fears. In return I got to know the greatest people literally in the world.
This experience was memorable, the turning point of my life. I want to give a special thanks to Sophonya for constantly supporting me by giving me strength to continue during hard times like these, always checking up on the everyone in the President Youth Council, making sure everyone’s doing great. I thank the Ryse Center for having my back twenty-four hours and seven days a week. Also would like to thank the STAC team for providing a day of suspense and support, and Tonya and David Washington for introducing me to great people. Lastly Dr. Ross for being the man he is for having the boldness in launching The Sons of Brothers Campaign.
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MERCED, Calif. – The Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Statewide Steering Committee on Youth Leadership convened for three days in October to discuss how they can collaborate and learn from each other for the betterment of youth across the state and in their own communities.
“I am hopeful that the voice of the steering committee will cause people within The California Endowment and at each site to reconsider the power, competence and wisdom of youth and that, as a result, youth have more opportunities to take leadership at all levels within the TCE and BHC work,” said Melissa Guajardo, coordinator of the committee and program director at the California Center for Civic Participation.
The purpose of the committee – made up of youth from all 14 BHC communities – is to coordinate and support statewide youth structure development, create opportunities for cross site youth engagement learning, support cross site communication regarding youth leadership, and guide statewide youth policy advocacy efforts.
Over the next two years, the committee plans to meet in different BHC hubs so that members can see the work that is being done across the state.
“I like the notion of traveling among the different sites, whether rural or urban, in order to get a sense of the great work that is going around. I like what other sites are doing, like implementing restorative justice, and I try to think of ways of how my community can incorporate some of their ideas. I am always inspired by the work that others do, and feel that my community of Boyle Heights can do so much more,” said Luis Melchor, the representative from Boyle Heights.
Many of the youth, such as Yajaira Medrano from East Salinas, want to learn from the different projects being implemented by other communities.
“I want to learn how youth statewide are getting engaged in the BHC work and what issues still need to be addressed. This can help East Salinas youth engage more youth in our work and different tactics that can make our efforts successful,” said Medrano.
Pedro Gomez, representative from Fresno, said, “Through the BHC Statewide Steering Committee, I hope to learn how to nurture and build those essential youth and adult partnerships in order to create positive sustainable change in California. Change has to start within yourself and from there you can change local, regional, and statewide communities. Ideally, the goal is to live healthier, longer, and be more active in your communities.”
By getting to know their counterparts across the state, committee organizers hope the members will be inspired to advocate for change in their own communities.
“I hope (committee members) come away with the sense that there is a youth movement in California, that we are not just working in silos in our individual community,” said Guajardo, organizer of the convening. “I want the members to feel their power and their strength as individuals and a collective.”
The committee was conceived in winter of 2011 by the California Center for Civic Participation, the Movement Strategy Center, and The California Endowment. In January of 2012, the committee was funded and its first meeting took place in April of the same year. Together, the members of this group are setting out to amplify the voice, creativity and power of youth to organize and advocate for transformational change and healing across California.
Johnny Flores, Jr., 16, is a new member of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Statewide Steering Committee on Youth Leadership. He represents the Eastern Coachella Valley.
- See more at: Coachella Unincorporated
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Green Focus is a two day program designed to engage Sacramento area high school students in California environmental policy while building a link to green jobs and green career exploration.Read More
Green Focus is our newest program which brings state environmental issues to the forefront. This two day conference will take place February 18-19th and will bring together a diverse group of students from Sacramento area high schools. Youth will learn about landmark environmental laws such as AB 32, Prop 39, and SB1 and how these laws connect with the ever growing green job sector.
We are seeking 3-5 Program Instructors for the two day event to help facilitate discussions, support youth activities and provide mentorship to youth participants. If you are interested please fill out this application Green_Focus_PI_Application.pdf and return by January 6, 2014. If you have any additional questions please email Belen Flores at email@example.com or call 916-443-2229. We look forward to receiving your application.
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We are looking for dynamic, passionate, Sacramento youth who care about sustainability and improving their community to serve on the 2012-2013 Youth Advocate Network CouncilRead More
What is the Youth Advocate Network For Sustainable Communities?
YANSC is a council of youth ages 13-18 who are committed to the development and creation of safe, economic prosperous, equitable, and environmentally conscious communities.
Businesses, government and other realms are mobilizing to create new policies, technologies and businesses to protect our environment, address global warming, and reform our schools. We need your help to make sure that youth are not left out of these fast-moving decision making processes. We want you to be prepared and ready to exercise your influence: How can we design communities that are healthy and safe? How can we create efficient and affordable homes, buildings and transportation? How can we make our schools more sustainable? How can we use fewer natural resources and create less waste? How do we make sure that all people have equal opportunities to shape our future and to benefit from new jobs that are created?
We can’t wait to hear what you think, and what you want to do!
Youth Advocate Council Members will:
Program Expectations of Youth Advocate Council Members:
To Apply each applicant must submit the following:
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From Toxic Land, to Urban Gardens. Community work is being done by the Fresno Sustainability Council
Here's some information on what one of the sustainability councils (Fresno) has been working on. They're working on creating an Urban garden from a Brownfield, helped by a grant.Read More
“Here in Fresno, the Sustainability Council has been regularly attending EPA- (Environmental Protection Agency) Brownfield training meetings. These meetings cover everything from what a Brownfield is, to redeveloping processes, to partnership’s for making it happen. As we looked around at these meetings we realized that we were the only young people present, ironically others noticed too. In fact, the directors were so impressed with our dedication and support that we have now been awarded with a 35,000 dollar grant for technical support and assistance. With this we will complete the step by step process of redeveloping and testing one of the 445 brownfield sites in Southwest Fresno, and transforming it into a community garden. This past week three of our council members gave a presentation to Lisa Garcia, Chief of Staff, and Lisa Jackson of the EPA on the work and vision we have for the Central Valley. We are very excited about our Brownfield to Urban Garden Project and are grateful to be given this opportunity.”
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Watch these interviews featuring CCCP Youth Council members Ruby Avila, Don Jesus Clemons, Isiah Joshua Maldano and Abhilasha Malhotra. They were interviewed by California Freshworks' program, which helps increase access to healthy foods in under-served communities throughout the state.Read More
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Riverbank YWHLP and PLPSH youth partnered with Golden Valley Health Centers (GVHC) to build awareness about their Medical Outreach Mobile Health Clinic (also known as MOM). Through the Step by Step Community Youth Activist team, these youth developed a video to build awareness in their community about accessing medical services at the MOM. The MOM is serving as a temporary mobile clinic until the school based health center is built on campus this fall.Read More
You may be asking, how did the MOM get set up at their school? This was not accomplished over night! Youth initiated this work back in 2006 when students surveyed their peers at Riverbank High School and identified that access to appropriate and affordable health care services was a priority for their community. Since then youth have been leading efforts in working with stakeholders and school administration to get a health center on their campus that provides access to the entire community. With the support of GVHC, they have opened the MOM and are currently serving students and community members in Riverbank. They want to continue to spread the word so that more people can take advantage of the medical services offered by the MOM.
To help build awareness, youth worked with GVHC to create the video shown below. Youth wrote the script and directed the video, and GVHC helped with the editing. The video premiered at the first annual Riverbank GVHC Health Fair this past May. The video was shown to over 100 community members at the fair, and we are hoping for more next year!
It has been amazing to see how the youth are changing their community through their efforts to increase access to medical services. Check out their video and let us know what you think. If you would like to get involved or support Riverbank’s efforts, please contact Candace Chwierut at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We would like to honor our class of 2010 graduating seniors! Congratulations! You have accomplished so much and we are so proud to have worked with such a hard-working and dedicated group of leaders. See what some of our seniors have to say about their experiences in our programs and what they will be up to next.Read More
My name is Alexis Kelley and I am proud to be a part of the 2010 graduating class of Health Professions High School. I joined the YWHLP three years ago and feel that the YWHLP has given me a voice, not only at the community level, but at the Capitol level as well. I have grown to become a community leader, youth advocate, and a role model for my peers. An important issue in my community is having increased knowledge for sexual health education so my peers can make more informed decisions. Through my involvement with YWHLP, I have impacted my community and myself because I now know that I can make a difference for the betterment of developing generations. Over the summer I plan interning with the California Latino Capitol Association Summer Intern Program. In the fall I am excited about attending San Diego State University in the Honors Program. I will be majoring Psychology and plan to pursue a career as a clinical adolescent psychologist. On my free time I am a shopaholic on a budget. I love keeping up with the latest fashion and I know how to get the most for your buck. As I move forward I will continue to voice my opinions and ideas to others while keeping an open mind. I want to be an inspiration to other youth.
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My name is Bandu and I am from Sacramento County. I am passionate about women's health and reproductive rights and I want to make a change in my community. I attended the Planned Parenthood Capitol Day because I want support prevention services and comprehensive sex education. I think more youth should get involved and help inform the decisions that are impacting our lives.Read More
I attended Planned Parenthood’s Capitol Day 2010 because I feel it is important that youth speak out about reproductive health issues to make our community a safer place. I arrived at the State Capitol at 8:30 am. There were people representing counties across the state all in support of Planned Parenthood. The North Steps were decorated with black and burgundy balloons. There were health-education booths set up around the lawn with information on Planned Parenthood’s prevention services, including STD prevention, breast cancer awareness, and primary care. I checked in and received my shirt and bag and was ready to start my day. I was one of the many 1000 supporters there to educate our decision makers and community on the importance of protecting the prevention services provided by Planned Parenthood.
During the morning there was a rally in which guest speakers including Senator Mark Leno and Assemblymember Paul Fong discussed the importance of keeping the Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program (Family PACT) available to our community. Family PACT provides pregnancy prevention services such as contraceptives, and STD prevention services and education to low-income families(1). Currently the Governor’s proposed 2010-11 state budget threatens to eliminate Family PACT funding and decrease the reimbursement rates paid to providers of family planning services for patients covered under Medi-Cal and Family PACT(2). After the rally supporters gathered in groups by their counties, and met with their legislators to educate and persuade them to protect Family PACT.
After ate lunch on the lawn while a mariachi band and dance crew performed, in honor of Cinco De Mayo. After Lunch we marched to the convention center singing chants and sharing our message to the public. As we made our way to the convention center we were met with some opposition holding anti-abortion signs. I felt empowered as I walked by and wanted to educate them on the misconceptions they have about Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is not just about abortions; they are about prevention services and helping our community.
After we arrived at the convention center, Spare Change, a youth theater group from Humboldt county, performed creative skits on the importance of comprehensive sex education, healthy relationships, and youth empowerment. My favorite was the skit about the Birth Control Beauty Pageant where contestants represented the different birth controls available on the market. The winner was Abstinence because it is the only 100% effective birth control and STD prevention out there.
At the end of the day supporters attended various workshops to learn more about prevention services and ways to support community efforts. I went to the International Reproductive Health and Organizing Local Communities workshops and was able to relate information to the women’s health work that I am a part of at school. I felt empowered at Planned Parenthood’s Capitol Day because I was a part of educating our community and legislators on the issues impacting reproductive health. I was happy to see so many youth at the event supporting Planned Parenthood’s efforts. I feel we need more youth involvement and representation in policy-making, and the only way this can happen is to invite us and support us to be a part of the process.
1 California Department of Health Care Services, Family Pact http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/FamilyPACTMedi-CalWaiver.aspx
2 “Attack on Family Planning Fact Sheet”, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Inc., PPAC
Check out the video I created about my experience.
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Kern County youth serving on Cal Center's Statewide Youth Board on Obesity Prevention (SYBOP) have been developing an innovative way to advocate for change in their community through Video Voice Mapping. They are offering peer trainings throughout the State, free of charge!Read More
Kern County youth serving on Cal Center’s Statewide Youth Board on Obesity Prevention (SYBOP) have been developing an innovative way to advocate for change in their community through Video Voice Mapping. This process involves youth videotaping themselves in places they choose within their community, discussing the strengths of those places, or areas where they identify a need for change.
Similar to Photo Voice, youth answer questions about where the places is, what is happening there, how it affects them, and what they can do about it. The videos are then uploaded onto a “Healthy Cities” map in English and Spanish to help residents, policy makers and others gain a clearer insight into their perspective, and learn how youth can contribute to making healthier policy and environmental changes in their community. Many times, a young person’s point of view will provide unique insight into a place that adults have never seen or have overlooked in the past.
In Kern County this meant exposing a corridor of power lines that had once been used as a dumping ground, but were cleaned up by local youth on their own and turned into a soccer field. Youth used old grocery carts as goals because the school yard across the street was locked and not accessible for young people to play. It meant capturing alleys where youth feared being jumped on their way to school, abandoned homes that harbor drug and alcohol abuse, routes to local stores where families are forced to walk in the street against speeding traffic and parks where condoms, drugs and graffiti are strewn throughout the bathrooms. Young people also highlighted improvements to one of their local schools, and changes they made to a nearby park.
Would you like to learn how to create powerful Video Voice Maps, free of charge? Kern County young people are training local peers throughout the State, with support from the California Center.
If your community is interested, contact Jennifer Lopez at (661) 205-3743.
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