Town Hall Harnesses Youth to Create Community Change

Town Hall Harnesses the Collective Voice of Youth to Address Current Issues and Create Community Change
Feb. 15, 2012 - PRLog -- How can a community successfully address the issues that affect youth and create structures for safety, opportunity, and deeper connection between generations and among cultural groups?  The answer lies in listening to the collective voice of the next generation and building partnerships that provide accessible and relevant solutions.

“Silence is Worse than Violence: A Youth Town Hall Meeting” opens an important conversation in southeastern San Diego between young people, adults, community leaders and service providers on Friday, March 2, at 6 p.m. at the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center, 404 Euclid Avenue.

The need for this community conversation was sparked by several recent incidents in southeastern San Diego involving young people from various cultural, ethnic, and neighborhood groups.

“The teenagers of this community want to feel safe. They want to know their role in building the future, and to understand and create opportunities for positive change,” said Sherehe Hollins, program manager for Civic & Cultural Engagement at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.  “So, a group of young leaders decided to come together across cultural groups to voice their concerns about the growing atmosphere of hostility, and to address these issues in a way that is not problem-based, but solutions-based.”

The town hall will lay the foundation for a plan that actively engages youth in leadership development and civic and cultural participation to address needs and take ownership of the solutions.

A panel of multicultural residents between the ages of 14-19 will discuss some of the most pressing issues and challenges they face in Southeastern San Diego and share possible solutions for overcoming these challenges. The goal is to foster specific outcomes that require involvement, commitment, and shared resources between those in attendance.

Hollins said, “Students in our community have five key areas of concern: education, employment, safety, health, and recreation. Our hope is that this town hall launches a network that connects teens to resources and creates understanding between groups to prevent future violence.”

The meeting will also feature a presentation by Kevin Powell, a nationally recognized activist, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur who understands the issues of growing up in an under-invested community from his own childhood.  Powell has focused his work on the importance of fostering youth voice, leadership and organizing, as well as providing solutions for strengthening communities by meaningfully engaging the next generation.

The town hall is open to all southeastern San Diego adults and youth, youth-serving agencies, community organizations, political leaders, business leaders, and educators.  It is being co-sponsored by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, San Diego City Council President Anthony Young, the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater San Diego, the Elementary Institute of Science, and CHOICES Inc.

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation has been working in the southeastern San Diego neighborhoods since 1997 to support residents in owning and driving change in their community.  A major focus of their work has been cultivating the collective voice of the community across generations, cultural groups, and neighborhoods.  

To learn more about the town hall, contact Sherehe Hollins at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, 619-527-6161, ext. 262.

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