Our Vision…

  • We are encouraging all young people to take action in their community and our world.
  • We are moving forward with our mission.
  • We are powerful advocates for change.
  • We are making a difference.
  • We are proactive not reactive.
  • We are the future so hear our voices!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

UCLA Highlights The Youth Voice

UCLA Highlights The Youth Voice
On Wednesday, July 23rd, I was involved in a panel discussion at UCLA law school in the Education Department for an organization called “Youth Voices.” This is an incredible youth driven program that focuses on the power and impact of the youth voice in education, politics and the world. The participating youths have structured the project into three different sectors, including: research, survey and interview. I was invited to speak on a panel with a number of proactive young adults for the research / interview portion of the project. The young adults on the panel were all representatives from different organizations.

1. Tammy Johnson is a leader at Applied Research Center in Oakland (thiscenter is a leader in bringing a racial justice analysis to educationand other issues.)
2. Nancy Meza from “Inner city struggle” a 2006 graduate of Roosevelt HS is an organizer with “InnerCity” Struggle.
3. Jarad Sanchez has been a policy advocate with the Applied ResearchCenter and is now moving on to Alliance for Better Communities-anorganization working with grassroots groups for educational justice inLA. I was there representing the “In A Perfect World Foundation.” Each of the panelists have played an important role in the youth voice, the panelists started the session by giving a brief description about themselves, and how either they themselves have used their voice in their youth or how they have helped another youth voice accomplish the goal. What struck me is that although all the panelists have accomplished the goal of making a positive difference through the youth voice, each has taken a different path to do this. Whether it was through politics, marches and rallies or the arts, every one on the like minded panel was thrilled to share their experiences.

The second portion of the event was an interview segment. The youth audience split into 5 small groups to delve deeper into the interview topics. Each group I visited hosted an interview regarding the youth voice.
Some of the questions even referred back to when I was in Elementary school. This is one of the first times I remember using my “voice” regarding my education. On this memorable day, everything went as usual, except we had a substitute teacher. When the teacher announced that she had a secret fun project for us to do that day, everyone was psyched. What we didn’t know was the selected “project” meant that we would be sorting through inappropriate magazines.

Maybe she thought she could hold our attention, I don’t know. But what I do remember is thinking that this is something I did not want to do. Still, a lot of kids were excited about this. So when I asked to be excused, at first there was a hush in the room. Then, I remember others joining in. In response to our peaceful but resolved protest, the teacher punished us by holding us in at recess and sending us to the principal. When the principal discovered how I had used my voice to speak out against “the lesson,” he thought this was the best lesson of all and had us talk about it. I saw just how valuable it is to take initiative and to be involved with our education.

As for the panel, we agreed that it is important for us youths, to encourage each other to stand up speak out and use our voices to make a positive change. I am learning that during the times we want change the most, to paraphrase what Gandhi said, we must “be the change we want to see”.

A Special Thanks to Janelle Keith and Jennifer Macon

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