I think that people our age are
portrayed by the media as violent, lazy and uneducated. I myself have held down
two jobs, am going to high school full-time and take high school classes on the
Internet. I would like to see, for once, something put forward to the public to
let them know we are not lazy people.
--"Speak Out," MNet's online discussion group for youth.
we help to raise our children's self-esteem, we also increase their personal
power. When we encourage them to be confident, self-reliant, self-directed, and
responsible individuals, we are giving them power.
June 18, 2002
Young People Making a Difference
We are all too familiar with stories of young people around the country who have shot someone or been
involved in gang violence. Increasingly young people are being tried in our courts as adults. Some communities rush to build ever larger juvenile correction facilities.
The headlines reverberate daily with stories of destruction, tragedy, and troubled youth. No wonder 62% of Americans believe that juvenile crime is on the
increase or that Californians believe that young people are responsible for most violent crime, when in reality
they were responsible for about 13%.
More than ever, young people in America need resources rooted in a public health model. What does that
There are many extraordinary people who credit access to these kinds of resources as crucial to their success
later in life. Some of these people include: the artist Jacob Lawrence who attended Utopia Children's House in Harlem which offered after school care to children
whose mothers were working as domestics across New York City; former Boston mayor, Raymond Flynn who attended the South Boston Boy's Club after school;
actor Denzel Washington who went to the Mount Vernon NY Boys Club after school; and Andrew Young, civil rights leader and former US Ambassador to the
United Nations. (New York Times article 1.9.02 "In some important ways, the day only starts at 3.")
- Access to excellent education for all;
- Programs for after-school, when the risk of being a victim or perpetrator of violence peaks for young people;
- Opportunities to be part of and contribute to their communities;
- Conflict resolution;
- Job and leadership training.
In fact, there are extraordinary young people making change in our midst right now. Across the nation they are
organizing to change the way America is dealing with youth in trouble. In New York young people are arguing for alternatives to incarceration. "No More Youth Jails"
is a coalition fighting the city's plan to spend $65 million dollars to expand youth detention facilities; in San Francisco young people in the group "Books not
Bars" are part of a coalition fighting the expansion of the Alameda County Juvenile Hall. The Southwest Youth Collaborative in Chicago is fighting for the city budget to
include more money on youth development and job training. (Christian Science Monitor story, 1.9.02 "Ex-delinquents seek rethink jail.")
One of California's foremost organizations of young movers and shakers is Youth Radio.
Based in Berkeley, California, Youth Radio promotes young people's intellectual,
creative, and professional growth through training and access to media. Youth Radio students learn the basics
of broadcasting and are exposed to a broad spectrum of media-related careers. Many of you have heard their
commentaries on National Public Radio, Marketplace, Latino USA, Public Radio International. Youth Radio
perspectives are also heard internationally through the BBC and CBC. Recently, Youth Radio won one of
journalism's most prestigious awards, the Peabody Award. Young people who were trained at Youth Radio
have moved on to careers at MTV, Berkeley's KPFA, National Public Radio,
KCBS (San Francisco), and elsewhere.
We owe it to our young people to invest in them continuously, for all of our futures. The Trauma Foundation is
committed to fighting for investment in our youth, and also to highlighting the work of young people who are making a difference. If you are
interested in sharing information about young movers and shakers, email us at email@example.com.
Organizations & Resources
Youth Radio promotes young people's intellectual, creative, and professional growth through training and
access to media. Through hands-on practice, working relationships with industry professionals, and production
of award-winning programming, Youth Radio students learn the basics of broadcasting. In the process, they're
exposed to a broad spectrum of media-related careers.
Co/Motion, a project of the Alliance for Justice
Co/Motion is a national program that helps organizations build their capacity to foster youth leadership in the
design, implementation, and evaluation of action strategies addressing community problems.
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
CJCJ is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce society's reliance on the use of incarceration to
Annie E. Casey Foundations' Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiatives
The objectives of JDAI are to reduce the number of children unnecessarily or inappropriately detained; to
minimize the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication; to redirect public
funds toward successful reform strategies; and to improve conditions of confinement.
At The Table is invested in getting young people "at the table"
where decisions are made and was formed "to facilitate a coordinated, sustainable national youth participation movement."
Other useful links: California Community Based Organizations
Barrios Unidos aims to build a safer community by preventing and curtailing violence among youth. Focusing specifically on helping teens establish
self-esteem and a sense of cultural pride and
solidarity, BU provides alternatives--meaningful alternatives-- for youth.
Community Wellness Partnership
Community Wellness Partnership's goal is to build healthy communities through our youth leadership
development programs and change public health policies with prevention advocacy efforts and youth violence prevention initiatives in the City
of Pomona, California. Our history reflects a “bottom up” grassroots movement cultivating youth leadership by
preparing them to become future community activists.
A family of health promotion, violence prevention, and community-strengthening programs serving Riverside,
San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono Counties in California.
Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW)
LACAAW is a non-profit, multi-cultural, community-based volunteer orgranization. Our goal is the elimination of
violence against women and children.
West Oakland Health Council
The West Oakland Health Council is a non-profit organization providing primary care, mental health, and
substance abuse recovery services to residents of North,
East and West Oakland, Emeryville and Southwest Berkeley. Its mission is to improve the health and
well-being of residents and to reduce morbidity, preventable
disability and premature death in the community.