This article shares how over 50 Boston youth came together to brainstorm, learn, network, and discuss strategies for promoting peace. For more information, be sure to check out this report and to respond to some of the themes that emerged from the form, click on this link.
50+ Boston youth given a voice and recognized as agents of change in community forum
On December 7, 2011, the Youth Violence Systems Project (YVSP) held its second community forum, which recognized the work young people in Boston are doing in their communities, gave them a platform to express the issues they care about, and provided networking opportunities.
"One theme that emerged out of our work with the community, especially with the first community forum in December 2010, was the need to recognize youth as agents of change and give them more of a voice," says Sam Kim, YVSP Director. "The forum gave young people a voice that was otherwise lacking." YVSP, a partnership of Emmanuel Gospel Center, the Boston Capacity Tank and others, uses a community-based framework and computer model to build understanding around youth violence and increased collaboration among those working to reduce youth violence in Boston.
Over 60 attended the forum, including about 50 young people. Participants represented groups including Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, Bikes Not Bombs, Boston After School and Beyond, City Mission Society, College Bound Dorchester, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Egleston Square Main Street, English High School, Madison Park Development Corp., Nightingale Street residents, Project RIGHT, River of Life Church, the Teen Center at St. Peter's, and Teen Empowerment.
During the forum, youth participated in a variety of activities that facilitated deeper connections to each other and conversations for how they could work together to enact change, particularly around youth violence. One activity involved breaking into groups to discuss how violence, peer pressure, poverty, and lack of jobs affect youth. "The city is constantly refusing to fund us, and lack of jobs often lead to greater rates of violence, so really it's just that we need more teen jobs in Boston," said the youth representing the lack of jobs group.