Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) is the youth mobilization branch of S.O.S. This October, the new cohort of youth organizers launched with a total of 24 participants. The Youth Organizers hail from many different neighborhoods in Brooklyn including Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, East Flatbush, Brownsville, and East New York, and represent 14 different high schools. This fall the twice-weekly workshops are focused on building trust and strong relationships among group members and between youth and staff, honing participants’ leadership and public speaking skills, and training them to be skilled and knowledgeable in areas of violence prevention and pathways to healing from violence and adversity. In the spring, group members will translate this knowledge into multi-media anti-violence campaigns to positively impact their communities and peers.
Highlights from our first month include:
- Watching inspiring videos of youth organizers in other parts of the country and discussing the wide range of strategies and tactics that can be used to make change
- Meeting New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo who spoke about leadership and community empowerment
- Learning personal leadership styles (North, South, East, West) and how to best communicate with people who may have different styles than oneself
- Meeting S.O.S. Crown Heights Program Manger David Gaskin who spoke about the Save Our Streets model and the importance of never giving up on an individual or a neighborhood during challenging times
- Exploring how injustice is reinforced on multiple levels of society and identifying how to build “people power” that can overcome inequality and create more liberated spaces
- Discussing conflict, healthy and unhealthy responses to it, de-escalation strategies, and emotional safety planning
- Taking a field trip to see the film, “The Mask You Live In”
- Taking a field trip to Lincoln Center for the “Vote With Voice” Youth Poet Laureate showcase
- Attending an S.O.S. Shooting Response in Bed-Stuy
- Playing lots of games to get to know each other and build problem solving and teamwork skills!