The Youth Justice Board shares its program model and the strength of its approach to youth-adult partnerships at conferences across the country, informing other youth organizations and advocates about the best ways to empower young people. Including alumni in these conversations ensures that the audience gets to hear from someone who actually completed the program and can talk from that perspective. And alumni further build public speaking and presentation skills, while getting insight into the professional dynamics of conferences and other events.
Our post today comes from Josh Pacheco, an alumnus of the Youth Justice Board who attended a service-learning conference with Youth Justice Board Program Coordinator Linda Baird in Minneapolis in April and was asked to share his experiences there.
|Josh and Linda at Our World, Our Future|
When I was first asked to write a blogpost about Our World, Our Future, the 2012 National Service-Learning & Youthrive Peacejam Leadership Conference, I was a little hesitant to say the least. It wasn’t because I had nothing to say about the conference or because nothing interesting had happened. In fact, it was the opposite. So much happened during the conference that I had a hard time deciding which things to share.
What was Our World, Our Future? The conference brought together young people and adults interested and involved in service-learning to allow them to share their knowledge and ideas and to reinforce a sense of solidarity and shared purpose among the many people across the country who engage in civic service. The conference featured lots of workshops that dealt with different aspects of service, such as helping poor countries get clean water and helping communities create more parks. I had the chance to be part of the conference as an alumnus of the Youth Justice Board program and as a current member of the Center for Court Innovation’s New York Juvenile Justice Corps, an Americorps program.
The conference was a great experience overall but one of the best things for me was that many of the conference attendees were young people like myself. As a result, I was able to attend sessions that were facilitated by youths and hear from them how they are making a difference in their communities. In talking to these other youths, I was surprised to find that we shared many of the same interests, even though we did not all come from the same parts of the country. Many of them were also interested in coming to our session about the Youth Justice Board, which was perfect since the Youth Justice Board is a program that helps young people become leaders in their communities. It felt good to see youths from all over find inspiration in the aims of our program and recognize it as means to making a big difference in their own communities.
Linda Baird, program coordinator of the Youth Justice Board, and I spoke to a group of youths and adults about how youth-adult partnerships can be used effectively to make change on community, city, and national levels. We also spoke about how the Youth Justice Board uses service-learning in its everyday work to give young people from New York City the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions about city policies with policymakers and other stakeholders. Overall, the conference was a great experience for me in that I learned that it isn’t only youths and adults from New York City that want to make a change, but people from all over the country. While there’s certainly a lot of work that needs doing, it was rewarding to realize how many people are working together to get it done.