The Youth Leadership Corps (YLC) is--as the name indicates--a leadership development program for young people in grades 6 through 8. During B-SAFE, there are a total of 150 YLC-ers at three sites: St. Stephen's in the South End, Epiphany School in Dorchester, and St. Luke's in Chelsea. At each of these YLC sites, staff strive to create safe, caring environments where young people can grow, express themselves, and thrive. During July and August, YLC-ers embark on fresh adventures such as exploring new parks, discovering hidden treasures of Boston through scavenger hunts, and giving back to their community through service projects. In trainings, discussion groups, and book clubs, YLC-ers, unpack new outlooks on social justice topics such as the #MeToo Movement and racial equity issues.
On Monday, July 29, the YLC-ers of St. Stephen's in the South End had a Day of Action at the Blackstone School. This was one in a series of B-BETTER Days, days full of programming that allow YLC-ers to invest in and show love for their community. The Blackstone School is a school of 575 students that is directly across the street from St. Stephen's; about 10% of the student body participates in SSYP during the school year and summer. Many of the current YLC-ers are alumni of the Blackstone.
Working with teacher Ms. Crystal Collier, YLC-ers accomplished three projects during the Day of Action at the Blackstone. YLC-ers painted the walls in the fifth-grade hallway area, freshening up the space and preparing areas for bright and timely murals. These new murals will have relevant designs and culturally appropriate messages to will create a welcoming atmosphere for the students of the Blackstone, many of whom have roots in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
YLC-ers moved furniture from storage areas and crowded, unused bay areas to the appropriate rooms so that these desks, chairs, and wiggle stools can be put to use for studying, conversation, and small group work on projects. This will enhance the learning environment for everyone, including students with different learning needs.
YLC-ers organized donations of clothes and hygiene products in the Family Engagement Center so that parents and students who need shirts, jackets, or shampoo can easily find what they need and feel a sense of respect for their human dignity in the process.
For the YLC-ers, this was a day to give back to a place that felt like home for many of them during their elementary school years. They know what it is to have a place and program that feels like home, because that is what SSYP's YLC is for many of them during the school year and the summer. For B-SAFE 2019, YLC-ers are getting to "do it like YOU," both by contributing to community health and beauty and by having social time and field trips, just like all other pre-teens enjoy.
By Latasha Scott, Site Coordinator of B-SAFE at St. Stephen's YLC
Latasha Scott is originally from upstate New York; she currently lives in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She began her career at SSYP in the fall of 2017 as a Lead Counselor with the YLC. Since September 2018, Latasha has served as the YLC Program Coordinator through our partnership with the Massachusetts Promise Fellow, an Americorps Program. She is continuing in this role and with MPF this summer and next school year. Latasha attended Dean College, studying sports medicine, and is now enrolled in Northeastern University where she is majoring in health science. Latasha likes to build relationships with the youth in a fresh way and enjoys the process of learning and teaching about social justice.