East End Youth Advisory Council
The East End Youth Advisory Council (EEYAC) is a collaborative effort between the Kingsley Association, Operation Better Block, and Seeding Prosperity and Revitalizing Corridors (SPARC). YAC seeks to serve as the convening force in developing a local and regional youth voice and platform that intersects with community organizations, institutions, and businesses. The urban redevelopment in Larimer and Homewood present a unique opportunity to create a platform for youth involvement, as both communities undergo new brick and mortar projects. At this time there is limited involvement from youth in either community’s vision planning processes. Youth represent the promise of tomorrow; their concerns, interests, and capacity are a direct reflection of planned involvement at a micro, messo and macro level. To create a healthy, safe, and thriving environment, all community residents, businesses and stakeholders should be represented within any community planning effort. This advisory group is being created so that youth issues and concerns are addressed through pre-existing entities both within the local community context and regional neighborhood constructs.
The Youth Advisory Council became operational at the 4th Annual Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE) conference, held on September 17, 2011 at the Kingsley Association. A panel of eight (8) young adults discussed the three (3) primary issues facing our youth today – the housing disparity in inner city neighborhoods, lack of an adequate educational system, and violence that permeates the inner city neighborhoods. The panel consisted of inner city youth from various backgrounds and socio-economic standing. The ages of the panel participants range from middle school to young adults; represented by both a blend of genders and race.
Purpose of Council
Youth representation at various neighborhoods levels in the East End of Pittsburgh is critical in creating a transferable and experiential learning environment. This effort seeks to create opportunities for youth to learn governmental procedures and practices that provide clear pathways for youth to participate in decision making processes. Youth and young adults have become a vulnerable group in our society, adult sensitivity to their issues require the development of a cogent and pensive inclusion process. Community planning efforts that have a direct and or indirect impact on their neighborhood, community, and city produce an influence on their quality of life. Their lack of involvement in any such activity fosters low-self-esteem and self-worth in challenged communities often represented by double digit unemployment rates, high dropout rates, high crime rates, high STD rates, disproportionate murder rates, and substandard living arrangements. It is critical that the youth of today and tomorrow are able to effectively articulate the issues that confront them on a daily basis. It is equally important that the audience listen to the solutions that our youth promote.
As a result of the response participants expressed to the youth at the GLUE Conference, combined with the youth’s current interests and desires to be heard, our youth want to be able to bring unity in the community, inform others about the political process, and sponsor community friendly events that will bring a positive light on their community.
The council will consist of fifteen youth ranging from rising middle school students to young adults (15-21). Each participant must produce satisfactory grades to ensure their capacity to apply for Pittsburgh Promise resources; have parent/guardian engagement that is supported throughout this process; exhibit positive behavior that builds collaborative skills; and have an interest in helping to build their community through proactive, pragmatic and strategic efforts that produce measurable outcomes.
Primary Focus of Council
1. Promote the interest of urban youth throughout America and the world.
2. Recruit youth and supporters to become involved in the political process. This will involve pro-social community activities and supporting social causes.
3. Develop, create, and broaden the educational, political, cultural, social, spiritual and economic perspectives of youth.
4. Raise the consciousness of the community at large toward a greater understanding and appreciation for human diversity and community involvement.
5. Advocate for human rights to help in securing a better future for youth, family and communities at large.
6. Network and affiliate with other groups locally, nationally, and internationally whose purpose is to promote, and advocate for a better future for our youth.
7. Develop a youth platform to address youth issues through existing neighborhood efforts
8. Create experiential learning opportunities that grow their capacity to understand and participate in the Green Collar Economy
9. Create bridges to adult organizations and institutions that seek the Youth Council’s feedback and support when the aforementioned organizations and institutions seek to plan, develop, and implement projects and programs that have a direct bearing on the lived environment
10.Engage in culturally enriching experiences that build the youth’s worldview beyond their neighborhoods and the City of Pittsburgh
The East End Youth Advisory Council will be able to inspire and offer programs and advocate for summer youth employment, after school activities, develop and participate in cultural and arts activities, and create counseling and recreational programs. Ultimately, the Council should be able to represent and facilitate youth input at local, national and international events; preparing them to assume leadership roles as a succession planning model supported through mentorship, coaching and experiential learning.