Over the last six months, we have focused each article in this series on Theory in Practice, Theory Integration and the work that The Youth Connection (TYC) has and continues to do throughout the Denver Metro Area. However, in lieu of recent events that have devastated our community, we were asked to discuss and highlight the issues, challenges and solutions that are being implemented to address and support youth throughout our community as well as the community and its citizens as a whole.
The media, both Local and National (including the recent Westword Article), has begun to highlight the increase in Urban Youth Violence as well as the challenges in regards to youth unemployment; which is at an all-time high across the Nation.
Many are now aware of the challenges and issues that each major city is facing, however, the question remains: what is being done to address these challenges?
We have discussed throughout this series how the creation of Healthy, Positive and Trust-based Relationships as well as the incorporation of youth voice all play major parts in the work we do: we philosophical believe these are of the utmost importance.
To stay true to a Person Centered Theoretical Approach, we believe that youth are the experts of themselves and their life experiences. To stay in alignment with these values and philosophies, TYC has and continues to incorporated youth voice to assist in the creation of programming and collaborative solutions as each of our programs were created with youth.
This is also reflected by work we have and continue to do with the City and County of Denver by working directly with Mayor Hancock’s office; which continues to support TYC’s mission, vision and values.
We recently took this philosophical approach to the State Senate. On July 5, TYC took a group of youth from various communal backgrounds and experiences, to meet with State Senator Mike Johnston at the State Capital for a private meeting to discuss their ideas of how best to engage youth and provide support throughout the city to impact the challenges they face each and every day.
These youth openly shared their life experiences and offered solutions, program ideas and agreed to provide assist in the implementation (via volunteerism) of these programs in conjunction with TYC, The City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado.
During the course of a 2-hour meeting, youth created multiple solutions for program creation over the course of the summer while proposing long-term solutions to positively impact all youth. In collaboration with youth, the City and County of Denver and State Senator Johnston’s office, the youth have already begun to see the impact of their input as some of their simple suggestions (i.e. fishing trips and recreation opportunities) have already been put into action in less than a weeks’ time.
According to Senator Johnston, “It’s so important that the people who make decisions about how to support youth hear directly from the young people who are fighting their way toward success. TYC youth showed that we can dramatically change outcomes for every kid if we can connect them to caring adults who are there for the long haul, and they gave us fantastic recommendations about how we can help put together programs and opportunities that will actually attract and engage the young people who need us most.”
We would like to honor and acknowledge all the hard work being put forth by all the Nonprofit and Community Organizations working with youth, the City and County of Denver and its staff, as well as Senator Mike Johnston and his staff for working side by side to create viable solutions for the young people, not only in the City and County of Denver, but the State of Colorado.
Above all, we would like to acknowledge, honor and commend the young people who bravely took a stand to make their voices heard in the name of creating positive change for all youth.
We challenge each and everyone one to become a part of the solution. For more information on how you can assist in this work throughout the City, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are seeking volunteers, sponsorships, and support to continue to implement our young people’s suggestions. Together, we all can create the community we want and desire.
Let’s stand as a community to support our next generation so they may successful transition “From the Streets to Stability to Success.”
Until next time, take care and thank you.
“Officer’s Death Reminds a City of Work to Be Done,” July 2, 2012 – New York Times.
“Denver’s plan to cool down gang violence,” July 3, 2012 – Westword.
“Jobless Youths Left Behind As Older Workers Fill More Openings,” July 6, 2012 – Huffington Post.
Regis University CPS video featuring Heidi Grove, her experience in our Counseling program and how it prepared her to co-found The Youth Connection: http://youtu.be/VlemkRgR1P8.
Heidi Grove began her work in the advocacy field in 1998 when she worked at a local not-for-profit agency in Denver, which provides affordable services for Substance Abuse Treatment. From 2001 to 2008, Grove worked with Gang, Urban and Homeless youth; has presented research findings on youth populations at Local, State, National and International Conferences and her findings have been published in academic journals. In September of 2008, Mrs. Grove independently published her first book, which is a curriculum based intervention for Gang Involved youth. She received a Master of Arts in Counseling from Regis University and was nominated and awarded Regis University’s most prestigious Social Justice Award. Since graduation, Heidi Grove became the co-found of the nonprofit, The Youth Connection (TYC), supporting and caring for at-risk youth in Denver. She is currently a member of Chi Sigma Iota International Honors Society, and is a participant of multiple state and local committees that address: Juvenile justice, policy reform, and research. Follow TYC on Facebook and Twitter.