On Tuesday, June 9th, The Crown Heights Mediation Center hosted the 2015 Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets graduation ceremony at the offices of Repair the World NYC. The event gathered nearly 70 people to celebrate the cohort of 19 graduates.

 

11403361_859043832252_5461650654943399097_n (1)This year’s Youth Organizers met from October through June, meeting for 4 hours a week to discuss and plan strategies for ending gun violence. Together, they mobilized peers, educators, and administrators in their networks and completed In School Organizing projects at 5 different high schools. They participated in 4 youth exchanges and an open mic, decorated 15 local businesses with messages promoting peace, and completed a final presentation for community members and staff. The Youth Organizers also utilized the arts to engage their communities by performing at the Save Our Streets Talent Show, running activities at the Kingston Avenue Festival, and showcasing artwork and spoken word as well as staffing the Arts to End Violence Gallery.

 

As graduation speaker and S.O.S. Crown Heights Outreach Worker David Gaskin noted, the Youth Organizers demonstrated that young people can make the news for positive reasons. This year they were featured in an article in Voices of New York and in video segments on News 12 and Brooklyn Independent Media. It was a big year and the group had a lot to celebrate at their graduation!

Special thanks to Repair The World NYC for hosting, to our 4 youth speakers – Deidra Dunkley, Nate Raymond, Jahnaia Vaughn-Elliott, and Shavanna Reid – for sharing their reflections, Kelso for delicious dinner, Bob & Betty’s Market for snacks, Butter & Scotch for an amazing cake, and David Gaskin, Heather Day, Caitlin Gibb, and YO S.O.S. Co-Founder Marlon Peterson for their inspirational remarks. As Marlon stated in his speech, “I don’t subscribe to the idea that youth are tomorrow’s leaders; rather, they are the leaders of today.” Together, we will end gun violence!IMG_0988_edited

Below is a a video of Youth Organizer, Shavanna Reid’s poem and a transcript of Youth Organizer, Nate Raymond’s speech. For more videos of the event visit the YO S.O.S. Youtube page here.

Hello visitors, fellow peers and staff of YO  S.O.S., 

I stand before you today to share this treasures moment in which we graduate from a great program, Taking part in YO S.O.S. has had a large impact on my life over the past year. We learned many things and it has helped build us into strong young adults in many ways. YO S.O.S. enlightened us to be more open minded on many things such as violence in our neighborhoods and how to deal with these things cooperatively and ways to stop violence as a whole.

Being the youth branch of S.O.S. has been a pleasure. S.O.S. is a group of adults using the Cure Violence method to stop violence in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy and they work hard everyday and see improvement, which is proof that hard work pays off.

My time with you guys has been beyond amazing and inspirational. I have never felt so comfortable with a group and still been able to work effectively. Being a part of YO S.O.S., I have not made any friends, I have made family. Family which I will never forget because a bond with such meaning is sinful to be broken. We must stay in touch and work together to make this world a better place. With our power and knowledge and we will prosper and achieve all goals.

Meeting you guys was a blessing and now we must all move on in life to make our marks on this world, but never forget our wonderful life changing moments spent with YO S.O.S.

Class of 2015 YO S.O.S. we have accomplished our goals and exceeded many barriers!

Thank you.