You walk into a room that is bright and colorful, the work and creations of the JCIT’s are on the walls, pictures and quotes of people who represent their identities are visible, and it has become more of a home than a “room for program.” Whether it’s the B-Excellent Pact we have created as a community or the carpet and tapestries on the wall, you instantly feel welcomed and comfortable. Every part of our space is intentional. You will find a bright poster on the wall with the mission statement our ninth graders came up with. Before we created this mission statement, each JCIT and adult in the room were asked to choose their favorite word. From there, we put them into our mission statement and created this:
We, the JCITs, dedicate our loyalty and respect to the people around us. Although we are funny and energized, we persevere through problems like gun violence. We strive to stay calm and positive during challenging times in our community! We are the JCITs.
You look at another wall and see a bookshelf with affirmation jars. Within our space we encourage each other to recognize and appreciate one another. Every person in our space brings something special to our small community and it is important that we remind people that they are important!
In our hallway, Abby, our Lesley Grad Art Therapy Intern has made each one of us a Bitmoji. They are representations of us in cartoon form and she gave us the freedom to choose our outfits and hairstyles that show who we are.
Also in our hallway, is our Art for Social Change Wall. The JCIT leadership development curriculum is heavily focused on how to use art for social change in the forms of photography, videography, poetry, music, drawing, etc. We encourage our teens to find the purpose behind the art on the wall, what it means to them and how they may connect with it.
You finish the room off with some string lights, blow up chairs, basketball hoops, posters of Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley and you feel at home. The only thing that makes this space even better is when every JCIT and adult staff are present and now, not only do you have a home...you have a family to fill that home. Come check out our space on the 3rd floor of The Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin on Lenox Street! Take it a step further by joining our JCIT Program! We are always welcoming new faces!
By Bella Vidaña, Mass Promise Fellow and JCIT Coordinator