Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In-School Organizing Presentations

On Wednesday, April 28th, the Youth Organizers presented on their in-school organizing projects at the Crown Heights Mediation Center. This special workshop was the first look at a big part of what YO S.O.S. has been working on since the beginning of this year. In attendance were Mediation Center staff, representatives from partner organizations, and other guests.

 For all of our Youth Organizers these projects were the first community organizing projects that they had designed and implemented all on their own. All of the projects were in accordance with the main issue of gun violence that YO S.O.S. is focused on and were meant to take place inside the schools of the Youth Organizers. They ranged from group presentations about gun violence as a social issue to their peers, to surveys distributed to the entire school of one Youth Organizer, to poster campaigns spreading a message of awareness and anti-gun violence within another school.

By the end of presentation the Youth Organizers left everyone at the Mediation Center (facilitators and general staff alike) proud to be a part of and supporting an organization doing such great work. As we enter the last days of this yea'rs Y.O.S.O.S. program we are now preparing for the Kingston Avenue Festival on May 17th and the Arts to End Violence Gallery show on May 22nd.  

Monday, May 5, 2014


We have great news to share: The Indiegogo Campaign for "Arts to End Violence - Support Youth in Ending Gun Violence" closed last Saturday with a total of $11,300 raised!

We are excited about these funds and the great programs they will support, but equally excited to know that 160 backers all believe in youth power and in the ability of transformative arts to end violence.

Last week Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets presented on the in-school organizing they've been doing to raise awareness of gun violence among their peers and teachers. This included student surveys, teacher interviews, poster campaigns, presentations to their classmates, and more. Here are a few photos from their presentation: 

Additionally, we are in touch with more than 30 organizations who will be tabling and leading activities at the Kingston Ave Festival on May 17th and are continuing to receive art submissions for the Arts to End Violence gallery show on May 22nd. We hope to see many of you at these exciting events!

Save Our Streets and Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets take a public health approach to ending gun violence. Together we can work towards a cure. We believe that EVERYONE has a role to play in ending gun violence. Thank you once again for joining the movement to build safer and healthier communities in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and beyond!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Catfish Fundraiser

Thursday evening over two hundred people gathered at Catfish, a bar and restaurant in Crown Heights, to raise money for Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets.
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 The YO S.O.S. supporters mingled and enjoyed their beverages all in the name of supporting young people in their efforts to raise awareness about gun violence and spread their anti-violence message. 

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Catfish graciously opened their doors and for hours the proceeds of drinks and New Orleans style Po Boy purchases went to support the Youth Organizers.  The vibe was lively and celebratory. Thank you to Catfish for being wonderful hosts and thanks so much to everyone that came to support YO S.O.S.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Selfies 4 Safety" Campaign: How to Participate

YO S.O.S. has created an interactive campaign against gun violence that was recently featured in DNAinfo.

There are now three reflective mirrors up in the community for people to take their photos. After you take a photo, you can upload it to Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook with the hashtag #selfies4safety. The mirrors all have positive statements next to them like 'I am a peacemaker," so that when you see your face, you also see that statement associated with it. 

You can also get involved from anywhere! Just follow the directions below.

To participate, take a photo of yourself and then add a caption on or under it, using one of the following phrases: 
  • I can make a change
  • I am powerful
  • I <3 Crown Heights
  • I want a safe neighborhood
  • I stand against gun violence
To share your photo, upload it to Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook with the hashtag, #selfies4safety. Thanks for participating!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Youth Exchange: Y.O. S.O.S. and Art Start

During its first month and a half, Y.O. S.O.S. has been working on building group dynamics and learning about different types of community organizing. The Youth Organizers have heard from a number of guest speakers, including a speaker from the Brooklyn Movement Center and Project Reach Youthas well as one who spoke about violence as a public health issue, signs of trauma, and strategies for self-care.

Last week the young people had an opportunity to take action themselves. The Youth Organizers met to collaborate with Art Start, an organization that uses art to work with at-risk youth. Art Start's One Mic program works with court-involved youth to help them write and create their own music, while also doing self development and leadership activities.

The YO S.O.S. Youth Organizers pose with Art Start participants

Y.O. S.O.S. is all about valuing youth voices, and this collaboration was driven entirely by the young people. The Youth Organizers chose what they wanted to present and how to present it. They thought through all the activities they had experienced so far in Y.O. S.O.S., and selected three pieces to share during the Youth Exchange event:  They spoke about their own experiences with violence, taught about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and resiliency, and led activities to show how conflict escalates and how to de-escalate it.

One of the Youth Organizers leads an icebreaker activity for the group
After Y.O. S.O.S. presented, members of Art Start shared some of the music that they had created. The young people from both organizations then discussed different mediums that could be used to make change. They also had a productive discussion about gender ratios in the two groups, and how to make both more diverse. One young man from Art Start said that after meeting with Y.O. S.O.S., he was going to start talking to his friends about gun violence.

Members of Art Start perform
In closing, they discussed what will come next for the Y.O. S.O.S. collaboration. In the future, the Youth Organizers may have the opportunity to present and collaborate with other youth involved in alternative to incarceration programs, and they look forward to attending events hosted by Art Start and similar arts and empowerment based youth programs. Art Start is currently recruiting for their Emerging Artists-in-Residence program, a one-on-one arts mentorship for youth between the ages of 17 and 20 who are not currently in school. Click the link to learn more about this and other Art Start programs.

Friday, October 11, 2013

YO SOS 2013-2014 Has Begun!

The 2013-2014 cycle of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets is in full swing! The new Youth Organizers are off to a strong start. 

They have created guidelines for their year, played games together, and started to strategize about how they are going to spend their efforts working to end gun violence this year. Stay tuned for more from this fantastic group of young people.

The Youth Organizers' Community Contract, which they created together to help make the year run smoothly.

Two YO SOS participants at Thursday's shooting response rally