Tag Archives: youth power

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.


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. 🙂


Kimmie’s Power: The POWER that I have now is the same power that I possessed when I was younger.

21 Nov

Kimmie Tran!

We (the YOUth) Have The Power!

By Kimtuyen “Kimmie” Thi Tran

From early on, it’s been conditioned into my being that there are things that I can do and things that I am not allowed to do. Do NOT touch that. Do NOT go to the bathroom without permission. Do NOT break the rules. You are forced into this box that conditions everyone to think that they are incapable of making decisions without someone’s approval, otherwise there are consequences. We are not allowed to break the molds that the society is trying to condition us into.

Why is the one thing we emphasize when kids are growing up is the negative powers of NO, DON’T, CAN’T, and SHOULDN’T?

Young adults feel like they have no power as they are maturing and growing. When Young Adults have to make a choice to do something, they quite often have to try to overcome the barricades of NO, DON’T, SHOULDN’T in order to accomplish something.

Thus, The YES! Campaign is the response and initiative to fix this NO epidemic! Instead of telling youth and young adults that they are not allowed to do something, we are giving the youth THEIR POWER BACK! Instead of constantly saying NO you can’t do this, NO you shouldn’t do that, we are saying YES! you can do that, YES! you have the strength, YES! you are able! This is important because young adults come into contact with many situations and issues that require them to feel like they have power. YES! gives them the power to recognize that they have all the strength they need to conquer any problem that comes into their path! The YES! initiative is Youth Establishing Strength to make a difference!

YES! is that positive initiative that is needed to remind youth and young adults like me that we can make a difference because we have that strength. Being a college student of color at an all-girls college that recognizes the strength we all possess is a reminder that YES! is that admonition for me that I have the strength to do anything I set my mind to. Power is not suddenly given to me because I am older or because I am in college. The power that I have now is the same power that I possessed when I was younger!

My ability to recognize my strengths are constantly emphasized through The YES! Campaign. YES! is the positive affirmation in my life that I am able and have the potential to do what I want to!!! I am able to break through barriers that have been placed on me because of what the society thinks I am capable of. I can show everyone the strength I have by standing up and saying YES!

YES! I can do what I want to make this world a better place!

YES! I have the strength to oppose the oppressor!

YES! I can stand up for myself, my beliefs, and others beliefs that I care about!

YES! with everyone standing together, we are a force that will become unstoppable because NO ONE will have the power to tell us NO WE CANT because we KNOW YES! WE CAN!


Kimmie Tran is a senior at Smith College studying Pre-Med, with a major in in Religion and a minor in Chemistry.  Kimmie continues to be passionate about social justice, enjoys volunteering at hospitals, cooking, and has attended NCCJ’s ANYTOWN program multiple times as a counselor along with being involved in activities on campus.