Tishana, first became connected to the Mediation Center when she joined Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) program as a high school junior.
It was the first after-school program she’d ever been involved in and she saw it as a positive place to go and spend time with friends while building her skills as a leader. She explained, “I wasn’t good at sports but I was good at talking, so this gave me a place to talk about my ideas and learn from others too.” After graduating from the YO S.O.S. 2014 cohort, Tishana was hired in 2016 as a Youth Facilitator. In this new role, she is able to use her experience having been a participant to now support the current youth in YO S.O.S.. She shared, “It’s easy for me to talk to the youth…they look at me and know that I understand where they come from.” One of Tishana’s favorite projects that she supported as a Youth Facilitator was the YO S.O.S. collaboration with Theatre of the Oppressed through which participants created short plays about their lives. She explained, “[the show] was totally created by us, about us, based on everything that we wanted to say and acted out by us.” She shared that as a participant and Youth Facilitator, the Mediation Center staff have helped support her, challenge her, and listen to her ideas. Tishana reflected, “At YO S.O.S., I know I can always share my thoughts and get help from the people around me.”
Through the YO S.O.S. program, Tishana was able to receive assistance with her college application and met professionals in the fields she was interested in pursuing. She is now working towards earning her Bachelors of Social Work. When asked about her hopes for the future of Brooklyn and the young people living here, she said, “When you speak with the youth, you might not realize at first just how much they’ve been through. I know people who’ve felt like they had no choice but to pick up a weapon, even if it’s not what they really want. There are young people who feel afraid to go outside and are constantly under pressure. I hope young people in this position will talk to other people like to staff of YO S.O.S. and the Mediation Center. You might feel like you have no options, but being at the Mediation Center has made me realize that there are so many programs and mentors to help you find another way.”
Over the course of November, we’ll be using this space to highlight the stories of the Crown Heights Mediation Center staff, interns, volunteers, participants, and community members. If you’d like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us on any of our social media platforms. If these stories inspire you to support our work, please visit our website, http://crownheights.org/give/, to join us.