Archive | February, 2012

Camp ANYTOWN – Social Justice Experience for Youth – Now Accepting Applications

22 Feb

ANYTOWN Banner!Want the experience of a lifetime?  Want to learn how to change the world?  Think you’re a leader? Or maybe you want to be a leader.  Want to meet other fantastic youth from the Northeast who give a spit about their communities?  Want a place where you can kick-back and just be YOURSELF?

Apply to be a delegate at 2012 ANYTOWN.  Program is open to all between the ages of 15-18.  Financial aid is available to ALL who apply and are accepted.

Click here for August ANYTOWN Brochure 2012

Click here for August ANYTOWN Delegate Application 2012

Want to be a counselor at ANYTOWN cause you finally figured out what can make a hippopotamus smile?  Counselors must have attended ANYTOWN previously.  Adults (teachers, school counselors, college students, youth workers, etc.) who would like to serve as advisors do not need to have attended ANYTOWN previously.

Click here for August ANYTOWN STAFF Application

Don’t take our word for it, see what Charlie Hoberman had to say about ANYTOWN below.  Or just google ANYTOWN on youtube and see what pops up!

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My ANYTOWN Experience

Charlie Hoberman May 2010 ANYTOWN

Charles Hoberman, Hall High School

I applied to ANYTOWN to learn a little about prejudice and diversity.  I’ve always considered myself a socially aware person, especially in regards to discrimination, so I figured I’d fit in at a camp looking for “youth who are interested in exploring their own social identities and biases.”   I ended up learning a whole lot more than a “little.”  ANYTOWN not only opened my eyes in so many ways that I never expected, but it inspired me to actually do something with my newfound knowledge.

Prior to camp, I saw segregation occurring around me daily.  I observed black kids sitting together at lunch and white kids hanging out with each other in hallways, but never really did much about it.  I tried to surround myself with different types of people, and still do today, but besides that I never really tried to make a change.  In fact, today I would classify myself more as “part of the problem,” then the “solution.”  I thought it was cool to call things “retarded” and even laughed when my friends said some pretty racist things.  ANYTOWN completely changed that aspect of me.  On top of that, I was a fairly quiet kid, who spoke only when spoken to and never really made much of a stir.  I would hardly call myself a “leader,” and I highly doubt anyone else would either.  ANYTOWN changed that too.

So what makes ANYTOWN so life changing?  I’m still not quite sure.  Kelly and Muneer are amazing, of course, and so are all the rest of the staff and advisors.  But what really made ANYTOWN for me, I believe, were my fellow delegates.  I’m not sure how they did it, but the group that Kelly and Muneer managed to round up was simply amazing.  Everyone was so open to new ideas and different people, and if they weren’t at the beginning of camp they certainly were by the end.  I never thought a camp with such a strong goal and message to send would be such a blast, but it really was.

Looking through the post evaluation forms from the May camp which I attended, I’d say something like ninety-eight percent of respondents marked that they would like to attend a similar program again. Some mentioned that ANYTOWN “opened my mind to the rest of the world’s cultures and ideas/beliefs,” while others said they “made lifelong friends in 5 days.”  When asked what they would do to improve the camp, the most common responses were to make it longer and to allow for more time to sleep, while one eager delegate suggested that he needed to be added to the staff.  I know this is supposed to be a personal reflection on my experience, but one of the most crucial things to me was that everyone there sincerely enjoyed camp.  That’s why such a great community was formed in which such growth could be fostered, prejudices crushed, fun could be had and friendships could be formed.

*This essay was written by Charlie in 2007. Since then Charlie has graduated from New York University and continues to support the ANYTOWN community as well as be involved in various social justice activities.

FRESH off the PRESS – YES! Campaign Conference Report 2011

20 Feb

The YES! Campaign Conference Report 2011

After months of hard work, we finally have it!  We spent weeks organizing all of the ideas YES! participants gave us about creating safe and inclusive schools.  Then spent days upon days working with a super cool graphic designer from New York to figure out how best to represent the contagious energy that was everywhere on October 23, 2011! We had a day long party to ask our YES! Leaders what they would like to see in the report – this was really just an excuse to hang out.  We did some work though, really!  Then, we finally put it all together ensuring that the whole report reflected the energy, passion, conversation, and learnings we all had that day.

As you read through the report, be sure to read all the post-its, the quotes, see the pictures, and start to think about what you can take away from it.  We think the report has a ton of useful information for youth, teachers, youth-workers, and school administrators.  This document is just the preview of what’s to come.  Later this year, NCCJ will be using the ideas that we summarized in this report to create an actual curriculum of activities and strategies that youth and adults can use to create safe and inclusive environments in their schools.  Until then, enjoy the report and contact us for more information about anything.

Happy Readings!

Click –> YES! Conference Report 2011

NCCJ Announces Sophia Dzialo as the 2012 Youth Human Relations Award Winner!

17 Feb

Sophia Dzialo, 2012 NCCJ Youth Human Relations Award Winner

NCCJ is super excited to announce the 2012 Youth Human Relations Award Winner: Sophia Dzialo.  Each year NCCJ celebrates one youth leader from Connecticut and one from Massachusetts who has shown significant achievement in creating communities free of bias and bigotry.  Sophia is 17 years old, a senior at Hall High School, has shown determination, resilience, responsibility, and dedication towards carrying the mission of NCCJ into her community ever since her first experience at Camp ANYTOWN in 2009.  She is a quiet, yet a powerful leader; eagerly committing herself to causes she cares about and wants her community to care about also.  A vegan because of her love for animals, a strong supporter of women’s rights, and an ally for the rights of other oppressed groups most don’t think about, Sophia is a compassionate young leader who will surely make waves of change in the future.

As one of the key leaders of Hall High School’s ACTION Club, Sophia has dedicated herself to various projects, often taking on multiple responsibilities to ensure every projects success.  She volunteers for every opportunity her school has that speaks to community building, prejudice reduction, increasing awareness about an issue, and bringing people together in common causes.

Over the last three years, Sophia has been a counselor at ANYTOWN four times, co-facilitated workshops on gender, racism, and dating violence to groups of women at various middle and high schools across Hartford, worked with an organization to fight for the rights and respect for Native Americans, served as a youth leader for The YES! Campaign, fought to get fair trade products sold in her school, ran awareness campaigns to the plight of political prisoners and child soldiers through petitions, organized a school-wide pep rally with limited resources, and spearheaded her schools involvement in the Day of Silence. Through all of her extracurricular activities, Sophia remains strong academically and continues to inspire others by being a role model for the values she believes in.

NCCJ: What is your motivation to be so involved in change at your school? Why do you care about the projects you’ve invested so much time and energy in?

Sophia: I think that it is hard to say there is one motivation to get involved, I think that it definitely has been rooted to my experience at ANYTOWN. Knowing that it is possible to create such a safe environment has certainly pushed me to bring that experience into my community. Also, having such a supportive group of friends who I have worked with on everything certainly motivates you to continue. I can’t describe how I care, other than I just can’t imagine not caring about the people who are affected by the issues that I have dealt with. When you hear about the experiences that people go through, for example on reservations, it’s hard not to care. I would never want to be in their situation, and I hope that if the situations were reversed someone would care about me too.

NCCJ: One of the projects you worked was educating your school community about Native American Reservations. Why was this issue important to you?

Sophia: It started off with a comment made in one of our school newspapers about a similar relocation between super fans moving on a stadium and Native American’s being moved to Reservations. I wasn’t involved or even aware of the circumstances of reservations but I had known that the comparison wasn’t fair. In response, I worked with others to really research Reservations and the conditions there. I never would have imagined the horrific information that we learned. After hearing about the violence, abuse and neglect that have been demonstrated on the Reservations it is hard to forget about it. It has been shown that they are almost a forgotten race, and we couldn’t let that continue. It’s important me to pay attention to an issue that isn’t being talked about.

NCCJ: Sounds like empathy is often a first step to change. Would you say that’s correct?

Sophia: I can only speak for myself; however I think that for most others as well, empathy is the first step. It’s hard to make a change for something that you don’t fully understand or just can’t connect with. However, when I learn about a cause and then try to understand beyond just the facts I feel like I will be more motivated and dedicated to making that change.

NCCJ: You’re very right. What advice would you give to other young leaders who want to make change?

Sophia: I think that is a difficult question to answer. I would definitely say that committing yourself to an issue that is important to yourself or really research what you want to take a stand for. If you are working to change something that you can’t fully connect with, and then you aren’t going to enjoy making a change. Also, working with others that care about the issue is the most important thing. You can’t always do everything, which is the most important thing. Being able to rely on others really helps.

Join us in congratulating Sophia and celebrate her successes at the 2012 NCCJ Human Relations Award Banquet on April 26, 2012.