On January 30th, Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S) hosted a Youth Exchange with guests from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Youth Leadership Council. The event provided an opportunity for YO S.O.S students to teach other young people the core content of what they had been learning throughout the year while also providing a chance for them to strengthen their facilitation and public speaking skills. The youth were excited to lead others through workshops they had enjoyed and to hear about the work of young people at other programs similar to theirs.

To begin planning for the event, Youth Organizers voted on their favorite workshops from the past year. The youth spent about four workshops designing their lesson plan, learning the material, rehearsing in front of each other, and providing feedback to one another.

Finally on the day of the event, Youth Organizers led a three part interactive presentation including a skit involving conflict escalation, an interactive discussion of the conflict ladder model, and tips for emotional intelligence/awareness and de-escalation strategies. Each Youth Organizer had a role, either as a facilitator, scribe, or actor.

Next, the visiting group from the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence facilitated a discussion around lifelong consequences of violence and other harmful decisions, and also discussed rehabilitation within communities and in the criminal justice system. They shared media campaigns they had taken part in as well as their personal connections to the topic of incarceration.

Through the Youth Exchange, a wonderful and fruitful exchange of dialogue occurred between YO S.O.S and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. To learn more about each group, visit neighborsinaction.org/yosos and https://www1.nyc.gov/site/peacenyc.