The room was silent. Twelve probation officers sat silently in a circle. Some glared at the floor, some looked at the ceiling. The African jembe drums sat, one in front of each PO, a silent invitation. As the lead drummer began, they started to play along, hands gently against the taut skins of the drums, a whisper. Then a thump, then some missed beats, louder, a faltering rhythm, then laughter. One hour later, 12 POs were shaking the roof as they drummed together, beaming at each other and making music.
How can we expect young people who are worried about where they will sleep that night, where their next meal will come from or whom they can trust, to focus on their schoolwork, learn or plan for their future? Part of our response must be an emphasis on family mediation whenever possible for both children and young adults.
Children who participate in Doc Wayne’s Chalk Talk program are most often survivors of complex trauma. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 4 million low-income youth have serious mental health challenges, but 80 percent of them do not receive the mental health services they need.
As part of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, peer educators and adult supporters at GUIDE in Georgia speak up about the impact of peer-to-peer prevention. "I had to have a conversation with my friend this week about a particular Snapchat she posted and how it’s not okay," said one Youth Advisory Board member.
Mason faces underlying and persistent tribulation most of his peers don’t: his citizenship status and the legal, financial and psychological barriers that result from where he was born. He wants to apply to college as an unauthorized immigrant, but the costs are just too high, and the road ahead is too complex.
Mason also knew he wouldn’t qualify for any federal or state financial aid, including the HOPE scholarship that his high school GPA made him eligible for.
In honor of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day on April 10, three Atlanta-area organizations hosted Healthy Sex, Healthy Futures, an event for young people ages 16 to 25 that centered on the voices and experiences of LGBTQQ youth of color.