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The importance of youth leadership at home

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The importance of youth leadership at home

By Isaac Garcia, a high school sophomore and afterschool student at Aptos Community Youth Program.

At a time when national issues seem to be the most important and engaging problems in our lives, it is important to remember where you come from. Recently, my youth group, Aptos Community Youth Program, spoke to Congressman Jimmy Panetta about our program and how we are making a difference in our community. Interestingly, Mr. Panetta noted that he was impressed that we were making a difference right in our own communities. He added that he was worried that many youth all over the country are only concerned with national issues, and while still important, these issues are what people like him are there for. Issues in our own communities, such as hunger, homelessness, food insecurity, mental health issues, drug abuse, youth violence, youth engagement (affordable and accessible after school activities), access to clean and safe public trails and parks, lack of resources for school and students among other issues impact our lives daily. And by addressing these issues, we can impact the lives of our community members directly.

This past year, my community has been through a lot. My classmates and clubmates have noticed this as well. Many of us have parents and family members who have lost their jobs or fear losing their jobs. We have isolated ourselves from many of our friends and family members and many of us are dealing with mental health issues. But as leaders, we can make a difference with action. We volunteered, cleaned beaches, podcasted, spoke at youth summits, learned new skills, connected with new people, and most of all, we led. And as the year progressed, we inspired more and more youth to join us.

If you are at home right now and wanting to make a difference, use your time to make a difference in your community. During distance learning, I found myself more involved in my community than I had ever been. I have three other siblings, so getting to events and meetings has always been a challenge for me and my parents. Because most things are virtual now, I do not have to drive anywhere to attend a meeting. The barrier to entry has been essentially eliminated, so now find an issue facing your community. Join or create a club at your school, talk to your local leaders (teachers, principals, congressmen, mayors, group organizers, etc.), volunteer, join a youth group, help those in need, be a leader and a role model in your own home for your siblings and family, whatever your calling you CAN make a difference.

Once you have pinpointed your issue, think about who it affects and how these people are affected. One issue that my team solved was noisy workspaces for students in our community. We decided that purchasing bluetooth headphones and other essential school supplies for students was the best way to secure a quiet and positive workspace for students working from home. We asked our community members for donations of school supplies and money and ended up with around 110 bags of supplies to give out at three different schools in our community-even while our community was suffering from wildfires. If you cannot get enough donations or grant money to do something at that scale, volunteering at a local food bank does as much good for your community as anything. Take a group of club members or friends and volunteer your time to make a difference!

Your community needs your voice and your initiative to create change. Remember that leadership starts at home. Start by talking to your family or friends about these issues. Think about who these issues are affecting, and who can directly impact these issues (school officials, local leaders, etc.). See what your parents know, what your friends know; start by changing things in your own life. I cannot stress how important youth leadership is, not only to our community, but to youth themselves. Everyone in my youth program has become a better person in one way or two because of their newfound passion for leadership and community organizing. We become better people and learn valuable skills , like effective communication, event planning, public speaking and more, that will translate in the real world. Now more than ever, youth need to step up. Be an example for youth across the world.

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/21/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/28/22

Slowing down while playing catch-up: The educator Catch-22!

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/24/22

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BY: Guest Blogger      01/11/22

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

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Image by William Adams from Pixabay Juneteenth National Independence Day also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee day honors the emancipation of slaves in the United States. More than 150 years after its first celebration, the Juneteenth holiday provides an opportunity to learn and teach about the...

BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

$1.8M awarded to middle school out-of-school time programs

The New York Life Foundation and the Afterschool Alliance are pleased to announce the 2022 Aim High grant recipients. In its sixth year, the Aim High grant has provided a total of $7.95 million dollars to help fund afterschool, summer and expanded learning programs as they help middle school...

BY: Dan Gilbert      06/14/22

You're invited: Help amplify youth voices in afterschool!

Join us next week for Youth Voice Week! We want to hear from, and amplify, the perspectives and experiences of young people.  From Monday, March 28 to Friday, April 1, we will be sharing pieces by youth about their afterschool experiences, and what youth need after school. Afterschool...

BY: Maria Rizo      03/21/22

Celebrating Black History 365 with Howard University Television

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BY: Guest Blogger      02/28/22

Tips for afterschool to support trans and gender non-conforming young people

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BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

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BY: Matt Freeman      12/17/21

Afterschool supports LGBTQ students

By Tran Tonnu, marketing manager at School's Out Washington, and Janell Jordan, King County program manager. This article originally appeared on School's Out Washington's blog on June 17, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission. For LGBTQ folks, June...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/28/22

Celebrating Juneteenth in afterschool programs

Image by William Adams from Pixabay Juneteenth National Independence Day also known as Freedom Day, or Jubilee day honors the emancipation of slaves in the United States. More than 150 years after its first celebration, the Juneteenth holiday provides an opportunity to learn and teach about the...

BY: Tierra Easter      06/17/22

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BY: Shaun Gray      02/14/22

Mentorship "show[ed] me my self-worth... the value that I have as a human."

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Unsplash The impact of afterschool and summer programs last well beyond a student’s formative years. The relationships that afterschool youth build with the adults in their programs often lead to academic success and future leadership opportunities. Mentored youth...

BY: Tierra Easter      01/25/22

Afterschool as a teacher pathway

By Sam Piha, founder and co-director of Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation, both organizations dedicated to promoting the learning and healthy development of youth. Our national teacher shortage predated COVID-19, however there is growing evidence that suggests that the...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/20/22

Anti-discrimination Take Action guides are available for free from Nickelodeon!

Sooner or later, most adults will find themselves needing to discuss big topics with young hearts and minds. While many parents and educators are comfortable acting as role models and guiding young people through certain aspects of their lives, issues like anti-racism and combatting LGBTQ+...

BY: Shaun Gray      01/18/22

Racial equity: Learning for justice

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sieb and nappy.co. By Dr. Jackie Thomspon. This blog post was originally published on the Utah Afterschool Network's blog on March 11, 2021. Langston Hughes, a great poet from the Harlem Renaissance, is one of my favorite poets. When I think about racial...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/06/22