Seattle Parks empowers teens through Racial Equity Project

Racial Equity Project-Seattle leader Jordan Stables participates in a free write with teens.

One of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s goals is to welcome opportunities to play, learn contemplate and build communities, and for that reason, we believe in empowering our youth. Our Youth Engaged in Service (YES) Program is a job readiness and leadership development program that places Seattle-based teens in a broad range of service and training opportunities to prepare them for the working world while addressing community needs.

This fall, in partnership with School’s Out Washington, one of the YES Program’s service projects is called Racial Equity Project-Seattle (REP-SEA). Students working on this project have spent the last two months learning how to facilitate discussions on race.

On Wednesday, Dec. 3, Seattle Parks REP-SEA and other teens gathered at Miller Community Center for a workshop led by a Youth Speaks spoken word poetry artist Angel Langley to practice their creativity while exploring topics like identity and how it interacts with racism and navigating systems.

Youth Speaks Seattle has been a leading organization for youth spoken word poetry for more than 10 years. In 2011, the nonprofit joined forces with Arts Corps.

“We try to find ways for our teens to explore the topic of racial equity in unique ways,” said Seattle Parks teen leader Katrina Go. “This workshop is a fun, expressive way to examine this topic.”

Youth Speaks spoken word poetry artist Angel Langley leads a workshop for teens.

During the workshop the teens discussed how their families’ economic status affected their experiences at school and were led through a number of free writes.

“REP-SEA’s members carry a lot of wisdom with them already, and they have a strong connection to the Seattle and King County communities since they have grown up here,” Go said. “It’s pretty amazing to see them realize more and more that this is such an asset to positively affect the community and other young people. Though our focus is racial equity, we have been lucky to reach out to other folks in the community doing amazing social justice work. The Youth Speaks workshop that Angel provided was just that. Written expression is a powerful tool to work through the complexities of race and power. “

The next event for REP-SEA will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 at Garfield Teen Life Center. For more information on attending, email Katrina Go at katrina.go@seattle.gov.

Teens learn environmental stewardship in Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Youth Engaged in Service interns head to the orchard in Dr. Jose Rizal Park to restore a trail.

 

There are 53 apple trees in an orchard in Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Last year, the orchard produced 1,500 pounds of produce for the community. This summer, 30 students participating in Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Youth Engaged in Service (YES) program spent an afternoon tending that orchard.

The YES Program is a year-round volunteer program for Seattle-based youth between the ages of 13 and 18. In the summer, participants volunteer for six weeks from early July to mid-August for a total of 120 hours in a Parks program or facility or community-based organization.  Sixty hours of the required 120 may be used towards the Seattle public high school service learning graduation requirement, and volunteers can receive a $150 stipend for the remaining 60 hours at the program’s conclusion.

YES program interns gather supplies before heading to the orchard in Dr. Jose Rizal Park.

 

Meghan Patino is a Seattle Parks coordinator for the program. This summer she has 60 students registered. She said the internship prepares youth for the workforce, helps them engage with their neighbors and teaches them personal skills while supporting Seattle Parks’ mission to promote environmental stewardship and community building.

“I’m impressed that these kids are willing to show up every day and work hard during their summers,” Patino said.

High schooler Benjamin Smith said he’s completing volunteer hours for his graduation requirement and using the internship stipend to help pay for a senior trip to France.

Eighth grader Jayla Fashaw said the program is teaching her valuable customer service skills.

When the YES program interns visited Dr. Jose Rizal Park on July 29, they were there to learn about a piece of Seattle’s history and how urban orchards were making healthy foods accessible to low-income communities.

YES program interns at Dr. Jose Rizal Park on July 29, 2014.

 

Green Seattle Partnership Forest Stewards Craig Thompson and Jack Bennetto helped the students restore a trail that led to the orchard and removed invasive plant species to support healthy growth in the greenspace. Before the work party began, Thompson talked to the students about Dr. Jose Rizal and how their work was meaningful to the Beacon Hill community.  Rizal was a Filipino patriot who, during his short life, made lasting contributions to medicine, political and social reform, engineering and a large number of other disciplines.

“Whenever I come here to do work I keep in my heart what an incredible human being this park honors,” Thompson said. “This park means so much to the Filipino community. If you’re here at night, you’ll see tons of families gathering and people enjoying the beautiful view of the city.”

For more information on the YES program, visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/teens/programs/teenjobs.htm.

Seattle Parks accepting applications for teen summer programs

Seattle Parks and Recreation is accepting applications for its 2014 youth summer programs such as Summer of Service, Student Teen Employment Preparation and Youth Engaged in Service.

Summer of Service (SOS) is a summer program for youth entering seventh, eighth or ninth grades. SOS helps youth identify needs and their community and make a difference while gaining leadership and work skills. Upon program completion, youth receive a $150 stipend.

Student Teen Employment Preparation (STEP) is open to teens ages 14-19.  STEP has teams of youth focusing on community-based projects addressing a need and incorporates job readiness and life skills activities.  Work takes place in various parks and facilities throughout Seattle.  The stipend is $599.

The Youth Engaged in Service (YES) Program is a year-round volunteer program for Seattle-based youth between the ages of 13 and 18. In the summer, participants will volunteer for six weeks from early July to mid-August for a total of 120 hours in a Seattle Parks and Recreation program or facility or community-based organization.  Sixty hours of the required 120 may be used towards the Seattle public high school service learning graduation requirement with proper pre-approval from the school. As recognition for their efforts, YES volunteers can receive a $150 stipend for the remaining 60 hours at the conclusion of the program. YES volunteers must complete all 120 hours to be eligible for the stipend.

All applications for the above programs are due Wednesday, May 14, 2014, but early submission is encouraged. For more information about the summer programs and to download applications, please click HERE.

Mentor application for YES program- The YES program is looking for mentors who are able to supervise, educate and support YES participants in a professional work environment from early July to mid-August.  Sites provide about 20 hours/week of work.  Applications are due Wednesday, May 28. To download the application, click the following link: 2014 YES mentor application