Wednesday, February 20, 2013

YO SOS Searches for Summer Opportunities

After the youth in YO S.O.S. graduate from the program, they spend their summers working, interning, or attending camps where they can continue to build on the skills they developed in YO S.O.S. In preparation for this coming summer, the staff and youth organizers of YO S.O.S. have begun searching for summer employment opportunities for program participants.

Both staff and youth organizers are on the lookout for promising jobs and internships. Over the next few months, staff will work with the youth organizers to find and identify organizations and activities the youth organizers would like to be a part of over the summer. YO S.O.S. will support the youth organizers as they apply and interview for these jobs and internships. The youths will then set out over the summer on experiences that will help them keep developing into effective messengers, advocates, and activists.

In the past community members and supporters of YO S.O.S. have helped in a variety of ways.

  • YO S.O.S. supporters have donated money to fund a Youth Organizer's unpaid internship
  • Local business owners have agreed to interview Youth Organizers for positions in their stores
  • Youth programs with summer jobs components have opened their doors to YO S.O.S.
  • Programs and companies have hired Youth Organizers!
  • Supervisors have written letters on behalf of Youth Organizers to encourage others to hire from YO S.O.S.

To reach this goal, YO S.O.S. is searching for opportunities far and wide. If you know of any organizations interested in bringing on talented and motivated high schools students over the summer, please be in touch with YO S.O.S. at 718-679-9414 or rbuitekant@crownheights.organd

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

YO SOS Retreat!

Last weekend, YO S.O.S. went on its first ever retreat, which was dedicated to strengthening bonds in the group and preparing for the community organizing the youth organizers will do in the spring. The group did activities focus on unity and relationship building.  In addition,  they strategized and planned their spring community organizing project, Arts To End Violence.

20 youth organizers and 4 staff members traveled by bus to Camp Vacamas in New Jersey for group activities.  On the first night of the retreat every teen shared a personal object that was important to them.  Some people shared pictures or drawings other shared things connected with family members living and those that passed.  This activity allowed the Youth Organizers a chance to share aspects of their identity and history. It was a time for each person to understand more about each others similarities and differences. Afterwards we went outside in the freezing temperatures to sing some silly camp songs around a fire.

The next day consisted of an outdoor challenge course, a facilitation and organizing training to get them ready for Arts to End Violence, and games in which they shared facts about themselves to get to know each other better. The youth organizers practiced their communication and teamwork skills in big group games, including team skipping rope, a tire zip line, and obstacle courses.

At the end of the weekend, many organizers said they felt closer to each other, had built trust within the group, and were able to open themselves up and make new friends.  Helen Dupree, Youth Organizer, said, "The retreat gave me a chance to get to know everyone and build a stronger relationship while planing what we will be doing for Yosos in these next few months. Knowing that I have supporting & determine peers is a wonderful feeling. I'm looking forward to these next few month."

The Youth Organizers challenged themselves to step out of their comfort zones. It was a heartwarming and amazing experience for the staff to be a part of, and many of the youth organizers are still sharing stories in person (and on facebook) about what it meant to them. YOUTH POWER!