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Sponsor a Youth or Family for the Holidays PDF Print
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 16:48

Youth In Action Leadership Corps: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Prevention PDF Print
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:01

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon 14 middle and high schoolers gather in an LAYC classroom to learn leadership and citizenship skills on topics related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in their community. The program, Youth in Action Leadership Corps, is an initiative of the DC Prevention Center for Wards 1 & 2, which LAYC administers from its anchor site in Columbia Heights. Youth come from area schools including Bell Multicultural High School, Cardozo Education Campus, and Cesar Chavez Public Charter School. LAYC offers three cohorts a year. The fall cohort is conducted in Spanish and uses photography as a means to talk about community issues. This method known as photovoice uses group analysis to give youth a voice, enabling them to reflect on their experiences and their communities' conditions, both negative and positive.

On one afternoon, the youth presented photographs they'd taken as an assignment to capture diversity. One youth presented a photograph of a street corner in Columbia Heights with a line of newspaper racks as the subject. In his presentation, he noted the diversity of the city through the readers of each paper, from mainstream news outlets to community papers. A young woman captured diversity in her own home with an image of her families' shoes placed side-by-side to form a circle. After each presentation, other youth share their reflections on their peers' images. The conversation always comes back to the community and how to start a dialogue about issues important to the youth through the images they compose.

In the next weeks, the program will guide participants through technical aspects of photography, photos as a tool for policy and social change, documentary techniques, and storyboarding. The fall cohort ends in December with a community action event and exhibition. The winter cohort will run January-March 2015 and will be conducted in English. The summer cohort is planned for April- June 2015 and will be bilingual.


LAYC's Montgomery County Conservation Corps at People's Climate March PDF Print
Thursday, 02 October 2014 11:22

By Neysa Guzman, returning Montogomery County Conservation Corps member

The People's Climate March took place on September 21, 2014, in New York City, and it was one of the larger protests the USA has ever seen with over 300,000 people. It was an incredible experience. There were so many different types of people involved: people that survived floods, farmers, students, musicians, environmentalists, young children and older people. All these people were united to stand together, strong, ready and powerful. We were all full of love that was displayed in people's different forms of art, signs, music and dance. We celebrated the hope that we can change things. We wanted to get people's attention to the fact that we are hurting the earth so bad that it may not be fixable if we do not stop. We chanted against oil companies and other big industries that refuse to change the way they operate.

I feel like every person should care, especially young people because this is our future, our earth that we will inherit and lead. I am glad that we could be there to represent the Montgomery County Conservation Corps. Being a part of the MCCC I've gotten to learn to love and really value the incredible earth that we have. Our program teaches us about the environment and the best ways to improve it. It also teaches us to fight for what you believe in and keep going until you succeed. The protest opened my eyes to another fight and because of it I will continue to fight for environmental justice.

August Program Spotlight: Promotor Pathway Expands to Prince George's County Public Schools PDF Print
Monday, 25 August 2014 09:50
Ernie Nuñez in front of the Chipotle Restaurant in College Park, MD, where he works as a cashier and prep cook.

Ernie Nuñez in front of the Chipotle Restaurant in College Park, MD, where he works as a cashier and prep cook.

A lack of structure, role models, and strong family support overwhelmed Ernie Nuñez through much of middle school and high school. Ernie knew he was smart and capable of doing well in school, but with a young mother struggling to parent three children on her own, he started missing school, failing most of his classes, and 'borrowing' relative's cars without consent. The latter landed Ernie in jail twice before his 18th birthday.

LAYC's Promotor Pathway works with youth like Ernie in the District of Columbia and Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery Counties. The Promotor Pathway is LAYC's long-term, multiple-year intervention model that provides Promotores to disconnected youth ages 16-24 whose obstacles such as homelessness, substance abuse, and court involvement prevent them from accessing resources and achieving educational, employment, and healthy living goals.

Ernie had participated in LAYC's Langley Park programs and staff had noted his poor attendance and problems with school and the law. They referred Ernie to the Promotor Pathway where Ernie was paired with Promotor Doris Romero. At that time, Ernie was a senior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Doris worked with him on his academics, but Ernie was still missing classes and not completing homework. As the year progressed, Ernie could not look forward to high school graduation; he was short on credits and out of time.

Doris believed Ernie needed the structure and environment of a traditional high school to complete his credits and attain a high school diploma, so she worked with Ernie's counselor at Blair to advocate for him to return to the school for a fifth year. This was unusual for the school and a hard sell given Ernie's past performance. Doris' persistence paid off and Ernie returned to Blair that fall. Doris set up after-school tutoring and met with Ernie almost on a daily basis. The year was not easy, but Ernie worked hard and received his high school diploma the following summer.

Now 22, Ernie has maintained a job for over a year, has stayed out of trouble, and helps his mother with the household. He works 20-30 hours a week at a Chipotle Restaurant in College Park, Maryland, and moonlights as a club promoter and dance choreographer. These experiences have allowed Ernie to discover his people skills and creativity and decide what education and career he wants to pursue. Doris is now working with Ernie to apply to barber school and financial aid.

On what was holding him back, Ernie said, "I was frustrated and angry. I couldn't hold myself accountable. I asked myself 'Why me?' instead of 'How do I fix it?'" With Doris' encouragement and her collaboration with the school, Ernie earned a high school diploma and a fresh start into young adulthood. About Doris, Ernie says, "She gave me the family environment and discipline I needed."

Many youth like Ernie reach high school, but lack the support, motivation, or discipline to attend school, complete homework, engage in clubs or sports, and otherwise make progress toward graduation. Cases like Ernie's, where youth are enrolled in high school and beginning to struggle with increasing academic demands and a looming adulthood, are rife in the Promotor Pathway. To better serve youth like Ernie, LAYC placed a Promotor at the LAYC Career Academy Public Charter School last year.

This fall, through a partnership with Prince George's County Public Schools, the Promotor Pathway will serve youth at High Point, Parkdale, and Bladensburg high schools. Promotores will work side-by-side with counselors and teachers to meet students' education, workforce, and social goals to and through graduation. The goal of the intervention is to help youth achieve a successful transition to young adulthood, including graduation from high school, enrollment in college or other post-secondary education or vocational training, obtain gainful employment, and acquire the skills to lead a healthy and happy life. The partnership will serve up to 60 youth across the three schools.

July 2014 Program Spotlight: Summer Showcase PDF Print
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 17:38

Over the last five weeks, 500 children and youth have engaged in summer programs and activities at LAYC in DC and Maryland. Thanks to partnerships with the National Arboretum, National Park Service, Georgetown University, The George Washington University (Adelante program), DC and Maryland schools, our youth are spending the summer exploring college life, completing internships, getting some exercise, and more!

In DC, over 40 high school juniors and seniors are exploring college life and classes on the Georgetown University's campus. Another 40 youth are creating art in natural spaces through our partnership with the National Park Service, and 150 are participating in our summer youth employment program. Through our partnership with the National Arboretum, 60 of our Little Stars camp participants visited the U.S. Botanical Gardens and learned Capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts. Our summer programs at the Rita Bright Family & Youth Center and Sacred Heart School are serving another 150 youth. In Maryland, 165 youth are completing paid internships at local businesses, and 25 youth are engaged in our Adelante program with college and job training and health activities. Highlights from the summer are below. Head over to Facebook for more pictures!

Connecting Youth and Professionals Breakfast



Adelante Job Training Workshop



Little Stars Capoeria Workshop



Guide to Post-secondary on Georgtown University Campus, Clubs



Bike Workshop with Teach-back Relays from Wilson High School Students



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