“You can never stop and as older people, we have to learn how to take leadership from the youth and I guess I would say that this is what I’m attempting to do right now.”
Cal Center recognizes that in order to address issues at their root, we need to include the voices of our most vulnerable populations. Our goal is to empower youth and let them lead the change. The knowledge and experiences of youth are vital to imagining a more just world for everyone.
Although 2020 has changed what our everyday looks like, it has not stopped us from making sure youth are integral to our work. This year has made history as the largest movement against police brutality as it spanned across all 50 states and even across other nations. It is also a pivotal election year for our country. Youth are wanting to make change in their communities and daily lives now. Our new program addresses this by equipping youth with tools they can use right away. With that in mind, Cal Center has created a Youth Advisory Group (YAG). For the last four months, we worked to co-create a new program that addresses the needs of youth in this moment called Avenues to Civic Action (ATCA).
Because the safety of our youth is a priority, we met with YAG via Zoom. Meeting virtually did not hinder our YAG members ability to collectively brainstorm and think critically about the new program. The input they provided us has been integral to our program design. Below are some of the ways YAG has contributed to the creation of ATCA!
Many of our YAG participants are already involved in local politics and activism. Their insight guided us to important topics to include in our discussions such as:
· What it means to be an ally
· Why self-care and community care are important
· How our identities and experiences play a role in how we navigate the world
· The importance of having fact-based information
YAG connected us with their current and past teachers to conduct participant recruitment in the classroom. They also provided feedback for our promotional materials so we can speak to youth in an engaging and relevant way. Two members even stepped up to create a short promotional video for Cal Center so we could show it in the classroom and on social media!
The feedback and ideas we received from our YAG members have proven to be indispensable and will continue guide how we work with youth. We’re grateful for these opportunities to work alongside youth and allow them to lead the way!