NCCJ announces Caleb Wilkie of Westfield as the 2012 Western Massachusetts Youth Human Relations Award Winner

10 Mar

The National Conference for Community and Justice is proud to announce Caleb Wilkie of Westfield High School as the recipient of NCCJ’s 2012 Western Massachusetts Youth Human Relations Award.  Caleb is 16, a junior at Westfield High School, and has earned this award for his courage in action as well as his relentless leadership in making his school a safe place for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth through education and advocacy.

Caleb attended NCCJ’s premier social justice program, ANYTOWN, after finishing 8th grade.  Upon entering 9th grade at Westfield High, he immediately approached his guidance counselor, Alison Kelly, to talk about what he can do to bring what he learned at ANYTOWN back to his school.  He had just come out as gay to his family and friends (read his poignant story here), and immediately felt the prejudices of many around him.  He realized that the only way these prejudices can be changed is through education.  He led by example and allowed himself to be open about his experience and his struggle with coming out.  He bravely faced name-calling with kindness by allowing others to ask him questions, and seeing every act of cruelty as an opportunity to make someone an ally.

He joined the Gay Straight Alliance and recently became the President.  He organized a “teach-in” for Westfield High School faculty to learn more about the LGBT community and to teach them how to be effective allies.  He talked with the history department to include LGBT Rights Movements as part of the history curriculum.  He played an integral role in organizing Westfield’s first annual “A Mile in Your Shoes: A Walk for Change” that raised over $3,000 for the Kinship Fund. He convinced his school administration to bring NCCJ’s BRIDGES program to Westfield High three years in a row and as a result gained 75 peer allies committed to fighting prejudice at the school. Caleb also continues to be involved in various NCCJ programs.  He has been a counselor at the ANYTOWN program, was a speaker at The YES! Campaign Conference where he bravely shared his experience of being bullied in front of 400 youth, and has co-facilitated various workshops.

Caleb is truly a rock star and continues to inspire his peers and us with his leadership.  He embodies Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching of “be the change you wish to see in the world.”  We are so proud of his accomplishments and are excited to celebrate him at the 2012 NCCJ Human Relations Awards Banquet on June 12th at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

To celebrate Caleb at the 2012 Human Relations Award Banquet contact GiGi Paolantonio at 860-683-1039 ext. 105 or gpaolantonio@nccj.org.

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.

Want to work for NCCJ? We are hiring a Youth Programs Specialist & Youth Programs Intern!.

9 Jan

Want to work for a kick-ass youth organization that runs awesome programs like ANYTOWN, BRIDGES, Youth Action Coalition, and The YES! Campaign?  We are hiring a youth programs specialist as well as a Youth Programs Intern to join our team.  In addition to random bouts of singing, and lots of sweet treats, you’ll get to help organize and run various youth programs of NCCJ.  Read below for more information.

Youth Program Specialist

The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) is a human relations organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism.  NCCJ promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through education, advocacy and conflict resolution.  At this time we are seeking a part-time, 25 hours/week, Youth Program Specialist responsible for developing an anti-bias based curricula, training youth and adults in social justice issues, and working with the Youth Program Director in delivering NCCJ’s  youth programs.  The ability to be a self-motivated, a team player, with strong program development and facilitation skills is vital for this position.  A strong understanding of social justice issues, comfort with social media and ability to relate well with adolescents is a must.  Requirements: Experience working with youth, developing experiential curriculum, Bachelor’s degree preferred.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Develop anti-bias based curricula for “YES!” campaign targeted for high school students towards creating a positive and inclusive school environment
  • Work with “YES!” school advisors to assist them in empowering young people in the creation of inclusive and welcoming school communities
  • Assist in the promotion and facilitation of our middle and high school program “Bridges”
  • Assist in the promotion, production, organizing and facilitation of our high school program “Anytown” which includes a week-long residential experience
  • Assist with the advising of our youth group YAC (Youth Action Coalition)
  • Write program updates and some articles for board meetings, website and publications
  • Assist with keeping NCCJ youth involved and engaged with NCCJ organization and social justice work via social media e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Other duties as assigned

Please mail or email resume and cover letter to:

Dr. Andrea C. Kandel, Ed.D., 1095 Day Hill Rd.; Suite 100, Windsor, CT. 06095 or akandel@nccj.org

NCCJ is an equal opportunity employer.

Sometimes we dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Programs Intern

The NCCJ seeks a part-time (10-12 hours) youth intern to assist in running of all NCCJ’s youth programs: ANYTOWN, BRIDGES, and Youth Action Coalition.  The intern will work with the Director of Youth Programs to organize and run various Youth Action Coalition events throughout the year.  This is a flexible position ideal for high school or college students.

Responsibilities Include:

– Recruiting ANYTOWN Alumni to the Youth Action Coalition.
– Building relationships with each ANYTOWN group at area schools to create a coalition of young leaders across Connecticut and Western Massachusetts to promote social activism in our communities.
– Partner with schools or community organizations to provide coalition members opportunities to create change.
– Work with individual schools to help them plan Mix it Up Day, Day of Silence, ACTION week, etc.
– Assist in ANYTOWN preparations.
– Organize the Annual ANYTOWN Reunion.
– Monitor and regularly update NCCJ related activities for our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
– Assist in various office tasks: filing, copying, data-entry, mailings, etc.

The intern will also have plenty of opportunities to attend NCCJ sponsored events, work with the Youth Programs Director to develop new programming and workshops, co-facilitate workshops/trainings, and take advantage of a pile full of snacks that are constantly available at the office.

Qualifications:
• Passion for and understanding of social justice.
• Interest in youth organizing (experience is preferred).
• Strong work ethic, positive attitude and the ability to play and have fun.
• Commitment to and belief in youth power and youth liberation.
• Independent worker, initiative-taker, good problem-solver and detailed oriented.
• Ability to work in a team setting and provide constructive feedback as well as take direction.
• Ability to use (or learn to use) various programs such as Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.
• Familiar with social networking sites such as Facebook/Twitter/Wordpress/YouTube.
• Willingness to work some evenings and weekends.
• Must have transportation to and from our Windsor, CT office or be comfortable taking city bus to and from the office. (The city bus comes right in front of our office building.)

To Apply:

Please answer the following questions on a cover letter and email it along with your resume to Muneer Panjwaniat  mpanjwani@nccj.org. One sentence answers usually do not provide enough information about you, so write as much as you want, making sure that you’re clearly answering the questions to the best of your ability.

1. Why do you think you will make a good Youth Programs Intern?
2. Why do you think activism is important?
3. What skills and experience do you bring to this position? How will you use this experience to better YAC and its members?
4. What are some of YOUR ideas that NCCJ Youth Programs (or Youth Action Coalition) could take on for this academic year? How will you carry these ideas out?
5. Please discuss your past involvement with NCCJ.
6. What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
7. You will need to be at the NCCJ office at least twice a week, do you have transportation to and from the office?

NCCJ does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, sex, color, disability, national origin, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship or authorized alien status or veteran status.

Are you a kick-ass youth activist? Nominate yourself or someone else for the 2012 NCCJ Youth Award!

20 Dec

2011 CT Youth Award Winner Lourdes "LuLu" Cruz giving her acceptance speech!

So you went to ANYTOWN, learned how to make the hippo smile, made friends of a lifetime, cried your eyes out, and to top it off you actually learned more about yourself, others, and our society in a week than you ever had before.

Then you went home, missed your ANYTOWN friends, stalked them on Facebook, wrote amazing things about how fantabulous the experience was in your college essay or on your Tumblr, and maybe even sucked up a little to Muneer so you can come back next year.  Then you went to school or you went to work or you went home.  You saw that prejudice is everywhere and not everyone knows it.  You heard offensive jokes, you saw people be mistreated, you heard sexist songs, and watched violent movies and tv shows that perpetuate all of this. You tried to say something, maybe you did say something.  Some listened to you and others dismissed you.

Then you missed ANYTOWN again, because at least there you felt safe.  You felt everyone heard and understood.  You felt like people were trying to build each other up than cut each other down.  So you went back to Facebook and stalked your ANYTOWN friends again.  After a little while you remembered that the reason you were chosen to attend ANYTOWN was because you had the potential to do something with what you learned.  You had the potential to build that safe space in your school and to teach others about prejudice and to be a role model in celebrating differences in others.

So you went back to your school, your home, your work, or other places that you spend a lot of time in and decided to make a change.

2011 Youth Award Winner Rosaline Abraham (center) with ANYTOWN friends Jennifer Hightower and Natalie Martell

And now, we (at NCCJ) want to celebrate YOU for making that change in your community.  Nominate yourself or SOMEONE else who you think has done something to bring the ANYTOWN values in their community.  We will pick two winners – one from Connecticut and one from Massachusetts who will then get to be recognized at our super glamorous Human Relations Banquets.  Fair warning, the winner gets a lot of hugs!

Here’s the nomination form.  Fill it out and either email the completed nomination form to Muneer Panjwani at mpanjwani@nccj.org or mail it at NCCJ 1095 Day Hill Road, ste 100, Windsor, CT 06095.

Best of Luck!

7th Annual ANYTOWN Reunion on January 14th, 2012! Who’s coming?

14 Dec

The YES! Campaign was planned by youth who have attended NCCJ’s ANYTOWN program.  If you haven’t attended this life-changing program, you’re missing out on some good living.  Check out the program here: ANYTOWN.

Each year we bring together ANYTOWN Alums for a day of Winter fun as well as to engage them in dialogue around a specific issue.  Last year we talked about bullying which spawned The YES! Campaign.  Who knows what this year will bring?

If you are an ANYTOWN alum from last year or from ten years ago – you are invited to the 7th Annual ANYTOWN Reunion to be held at Camp Jewell in Colebrook CT on January 14th, 2012!  This event is free with a suggested donation and transportation is provided from Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA.

For more information and to sign up download ANYTOWN Reunion Registration Form NCCJ 2012 and check out our event on Facebook.

Contact Muneer Panjwani with any questions or to just say hi.  mpanjwani@nccj.org – 860-683-1039 ext. 102.

Why YES! Matters – A Video Series

6 Dec

Many of us have seen the It Gets Better videos that have inspired and given hope to countless people, young and old, that things get better and they do not need to take drastic measures to deal with the trauma of bullying and harassment.  I loved watching many of these videos, and quietly wished that I had seen some of these when I was in high school.  Though hope for a brighter future is an important factor in making life-altering decisions, it simply isn’t enough.  I had a young leader in 9th grade say to me, “I don’t know if I can wait three more years for it to get better.”  That hit a nerve in me.

I thought again about my experience in high school getting teased, pushed, and avoided consistently.  Then I heard a bunch of the young leaders around me talk about all the things they’re doing in their school as part of their GSA’s, Diversity Clubs, ANYTOWN clubs, etc. and it was clear to them that they weren’t telling any one to wait.  They were taking the initiative to make it better.  They were organizing after-school meetings with school faculty to educate them on LGBT terminology, they were leading dialogues on what bullying looks like in their school at their advisories, they were creating poster campaigns to educate people about the cycle of oppression, they were going up to people sitting by themselves at lunch, they were asking their school cafeteria to have a “diversity lunch,” and they were being true role models by celebrating the unique qualities that make them just them.

They were doing all this because they wanted that “hope” to come earlier, to come now.  And, these are the youth who envisioned, planned, and launched The YES! Campaign in October.  Why do they believe in the POWER of YES!?  Watch the Videos to find out and share your comments and feelings in the comments below!

(Muneer Panjwani)

WE ALSO DID A PRETTY COOL FLASHMOB AT NCCJ’S ANNUAL HUMAN RELATIONS AWARD BANQUET!

Youth taking ACTION to end Youth Homelessness – Upcoming Event

1 Dec

Youth homelessness, but why?

3rd Annual Youth Homelessness and Hunger Summit

Three years ago, students at Classical Magnet High School in Hartford Connecticut, many of whom where ANYTOWN alums, got together to talk about youth homelessness.  They found that Youth homelessness is a problem nationwide, but it is hardly discussed. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that about 5 to 8% (about 1 to 1.5 million) of our nation’s youth experience one night of homelessness each year.

Facts

So they said they want to take ACTION to raise awareness and educate the community about this issue.  Under the leadership of Dr. Monica Brase (an ANYTOWN advisor for 5 years!) they put together a Youth Homelessness and Hunger Summit inviting community leaders and youth to participate learning the reality of youth homelessness and what we can do to stop it.  The last two years have been a huge success with many youth leaders facilitating workshops, engaging in discussions, all the while sleeping outside to see what if feels like to be homeless for one night.  Suffice it to say, it’s been a powerful learning experience for many.

The ACTION Against Youth Homelessness and Hunger (AAYHH) group is hosting the 3rd Annual Youth Homelessness and Hunger Summit at The Lyceum in Hartford Connecticut on December 10th, 2011 from 9:30AM-2:00PM.  The summit is open to youth and young adults ages 12 and up.  Youth leaders in AAYHH will facilitate workshops to broaden understanding of youth homelessness and hunger.  Resource materials will also be available.  For more information or to register, please go to http://www.aayhh.com or contact Dr. Monica Brase at 860-695-7203 or at classicalmagnetaction@gmail.com or Patrick Bracken at (860) 695-9238.

Homeless Youth Summit Dec 2011 Flyer

Get more facts here:  http://www.dowhateverittakes.org/why/

Janette’s Day at YES!: I am part of the group called “youth” and change will start happening if I take action and help my fellow peers.

28 Nov

My Day at the YES! Conference

By Janette Cruz

When you hear the word Conference you usually think of men or women in business attire, and long, boring, and useless diagrams. However, on October 23,2011 I was a YES! leader at the YES! Conference and the word boring was far from it. I got there around 7ish and it ended around 5 but those hours flew by so fast. As soon as the first school arrived– music, like “Firework” by Katy Perry started playing. My friend Erin and I were in charge of playing games (ice breakers) with the different schools and it was a lot of fun interacting with people our age from all over CT, Mass, and RI.

It was up beat, filled with energy and just fun. I loved the poet Jamele Adams, he gave me inspiration and energy. I n fact, he inspired me to make my speech for Names Can Really Hurt Us (an anti-bullying program at my school) into a poem about discrimination. The workshops during the conference were very informative and let everyone participate (through sharing of thoughts, feelings, memories, etc.). I was not assigned to a workshop but I walked around and listened to a few and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves.

I attended a workshop called “That’s Soooo Gay!” about how homophobic language, attitudes, and feelings create an unsafe school culture and how homophobia hurts not just people who are LGBTQ, but everyone. The woman who was running this workshop got sick and had to leave, leaving my friend Matt and I in charge. We passed out some papers that she left and continued the discussion about positive and negative stereotypes of people in the queer community.

It was interesting to hear what others (not only ppl who were LGTBQ but allies also) thought about being LGBTQ in their school. They talked about how they felt and why they felt that way. For example, a male said: “I’m gay and proud of it but that doesn’t mean I’m going to want to have sex with every guy I see,” properly correcting a prejudice people have.  I loved hearing what allies thought because they are usually forgotten when you think about LGBTQ/queer community. When an ally male said, “I support my friends who are gay or lesbian, etc. but since I hang with them, people often think I’m gay too, even though I’m not.”

We also talked about how being LGBTQ is not a choice but a discovery/acceptance within yourself that you were born that way.  In addition to this we also talked about how to be an ally. I enjoyed the discussion but wished it wasn’t so much like a lecture in a way, since our presenter got sick. Matt and I weren’t so sure how well we did at talking about/ leading a workshop until one of the guys who participated in the workshop told us that he really learned a lot from the workshop and enjoyed it. It was a really cool feeling, knowing that the message really got through.

In the afternoon I saw a group of improv students perform. They showed the perspective of each person in a bullying situation–bully, victim, bystander, and ally. In the afternoon I saw a movie called “Bullied” of a guy who was bullied in school so much  that he was beaten, threatened and almost killed because of his sexual orientation. He was the first to sue his school for not taking action and helping him with this serious situation.

I also really enjoyed the part of the conference where all the youth had to come up with an idea of how to take all that they learned that day and bring it back to their school. They wrote it on a note card and had to walk around exchanging note cards with everyone until the sound of the whistle blew (kinda like musical chairs haha). Then we were told to rate/add suggestions to the idea, so everyone got to see each others idea and see if it would work.

Overall it was a wonderful time. I was interviewed during the conference on why I was helping and the answer is because I am part of the group called “youth” and change will start happening if I take action and help my fellow peers. Youth should have a say in what is right and what is wrong. I learned new things, met new ppl and had fun while doing all of this. This conference makes me want to continue to find new ways to stop discrimination, prejudice, bullying, etc. in my school.

The YES! conference was only the beginning of the actions that youth are doing/going to do to stop bullying.

We, the youth have power and it’s time to use it to help the current generation and the next.

YES!

Impromptu Dance Party!

ps: we had the best dance parties during break. haha c:

Janette is a student at Wethersfield High School.  She is a recent alum of NCCJ’s ANYTOWN program and has been YES! Leader all year long. We are continually impressed with her ability to rise to the occasion as she did at the conference with Matt Wilson when their facilitator got sick.  That was pretty rocking to see. 🙂