Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Youth in Providence Have the Power

YIA (Youth in Action) Historically- This nonprofit was started in 1997 (when I was 2 years old) to recognize marginalized underprivileged youth and bring them into a space where they could have influence i.e. school reform, politics, organizing...

Young People at Center of Change- Large scale social change wouldn't be successful without youth inclusion. For many young people of color, they feel powerless for the long history of adversity that has pushed down their throats (figuratively) so that their voices cannot be heard when it counts. The tide in Providence is changing to take after the youth space YIA in that leaders are coming around to a new perception of youth being innovation pioneers.

Part of a Place Where Having Opinions Makes Stronger- As described in first person testimony, youth bring a lot of their own values and opinions to the nonprofit space, and they often get into heated debates which are perceived as healthy and welcomed. This is reverse of the school community culture in which per say, a student gets pregnant and because of her own cultural norms and pressures against the 'taboo' of conceiving at an early age, she leaves school. If more schools take the shift to a YPI culture, she should be reassured and welcomed back into the school environment.

Exceeding Other's Expectations- One of the speakers in the article attended Brown University. That is significant because she is of a minority background and went to a school that doesn't groom the kind of youth that go to Brown (or at least that is what her demeaning guidance counselor said to her. The problem with some adults in our education system and holding positions as community leaders, is they are not supporting youth vision of success and big ideas for change. If you're not part of the change, you're part of the problem. How many more students that one school staff member affects every day with negativity is the kind of mindset that I, as a youth worker can turn around.

There had never been a time in my own experience as a youth that I was asked to co-construct a bigger picture. It is inspiring and awesome to see the work that YPI does for the community of Providence. Leading with...is a great model to cultivate the innovators of the future. For marginalized (or any) youth to feel as though they can make a difference, they must have the right platform to be heard on, the conditions to thrive. Many of us in the Youth Development field can be thankful for nonprofits like that, and participants there in can look forward to giving back as agents of change in this field.


  1. Hey Cody! Great post! I too never had an experience as a youth that i was asked to co-construct. Looking at situations like this from the outside only make me wonder about the endless possibilities that could have been created as youth (and also still can be created). Looking forward to reading more!
    Take care, Megan

  2. Hello Cody, You bring up an interesting point that large social change would not be successful without youth inclusion. YIA using the “leading with” notion is a great example of it serving underprivileged youth by giving them a voice in which to participate with their surrounding community. Another great point you brought up was that while YIA leads with youth they also make sure they have adequate support behind them so they can succeed to accomplish their task.

  3. Hey Cody! I like how you spoke about Oredola's experience! I spoke about her experience in my article too. I can relate to her because that similar incident had happen to me. I also found it amazing how YIA had a lot of young leaders. It amaze me as I read the article and read how old each speaker was!