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Four Crazy Good Youth Organizations | Memory of the Future Project
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Four Crazy Good Youth Organizations

By Sara Lovell | January 15, 2009

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poh-faces3-w-creditFollowing my Younger is Wiser post, I wanted to spread the word about some incredible folks working for youth empowerment and community building. I can’t think of any better groups right now to support and partner with on behalf of our youth.

Power of Hope

This program is right up at the top for this Memory of the Future Project with this description: The Power of Hope programs are for youth and young adults who want to take an active role in creating a positive future, develop their leadership skills, build stronger communities and have a great time in the process!

Their mission: The Power of Hope unleashes the positive potential of youth through arts-centered intergenerational and multicultural learning programs that value self-awareness, leadership, community and social change.

This amazing program was founded by my friends Charlie Murphy and Peggy Taylor. I met Charlie and Peggy in 2000 and was invited to check out a couple of open events at the summer camp. I was blown away by the generous heart and spirit exuding from the young people there. The premise is to bring a vastly diverse group of youth together for a week long camp in a beautiful, natural setting. Charlie and Peggy are such gifted facilitators and have built a solid foundation for creating the kind of safe and sacred space that allows the youth to connect deeply with each other, and to be able to experiment and explore different modes of self-expression, finding their unique voice and learning how they want to offer it to their communities and their world. I’ve also had the great honor to participate in two Intergenerational Dialogues that they held during two different camps. We all gathered, youth and adults in a big tent, and the youth came up with questions that they wanted to ask the adults, and the adults then gave their individual questions for the youth, and someone was writing all of the questions on a board. One at a time, different young people would choose which adult’s questions they wanted to answer and answer them, and then the adults would do the same for the youth’s questions. It was intimate and moving, and I had the feeling that this was something that just didn’t happen very often and I felt a sense of sadness from that separation. Hopefully all of the people involved felt the same and are finding ways to connect between the generations in their own families and communities. After hearing many of the youth expressing their heartfelt desire for more connection and mentoring, I’m exploring how I can be involved as a mentor in my city.

And now Charlie and Peggy have started PYEGlobal, to empower communities across the world to provide creative, intergenerational programs for young people that develop motivation, self-esteem, cross-cultural communication, and skill for leading purposeful lives.

Kid Pan Alley

Founded by my dear friend Paul Reisler, who with guitar in hand, goes into elementary school classrooms and co-writes songs with the kids. Paul has an incredible gift for hearing the unique hearts and voices of these kids and guiding their words and music into some of the most touching, funny and grace-filled songs I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.

From the website:

Paul Reisler travels the country these days putting on his Kid Pan Alley workshops. Paul sits with school age children and together they create wonderful things. The results are that thousands of songs have been written by thousands of kids. Their lyrics grace the contents of several CD’s. When the kids sing their songs, they are backed by Reisler’s Kid Pan Alley Band which is made up of nationally and internationally recognized musicians. It’s hard not to feel inspired and invigorated when you hear the music and see the smiling faces of these young people. They are seeing and hearing the fruits of their creativity. It’s a stunning process to witness.

Creativity in our children is needed more than ever these days. With so much teaching to the test and cuts made to arts programs across the country, it is refreshing to see that Reisler and his crew of merry music makers is having great success.

Here are two of my favorite Kid Pan Alley songs—and there are more available to listen to on the Kid Pan Alley website.

Can’t Remember What I Forgot

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Best Friends

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League of Young Voters

These folks are kicking butt!! I continue to get reports from chapters in different parts of the country and the incredible results they’ve achieved – in fact just got an email praising the work of two young league organizers in the Twin Cities that helped increase the voter turnout in several of their precincts by 34-50% from 2004, helping to get Al Franken elected.

The League of Young Voters empowers young people nationwide to participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level – with a focus on non-college youth and youth from low-income communities and communities of color. The League makes political engagement relevant by meeting young people where they are, working on issues that affect their lives, and providing them with tools, training, and support to become serious catalysts for change in their communities. Founded in 2003, the League has become one of the strongest youth organizations in the country fighting for progressive change.

YES!

I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with Ocean and Michele Robbins, who are co-presidents of this dynamic youth organization that I’ve heard only incredible things about. I know people who’ve said their Jams completely changed their lives, and created connections with new friends all over the globe.

Founded in 1990 by Ocean and Ryan Eliason when they were in their teens, YES! is a nonprofit organization that connects, inspires and collaborates with young changemakers to join forces for a thriving, just and sustainable ways of life for all. Our three program areas are Global Leadership Jams, Leveraging Privilege for Social Change, and Supporting Aligned Movements. We work at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal, and systemic transformation.

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in an adult of 60 more than a child of 20. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what’s next. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from people and from the infinite, so long are you young.”

–Samuel Ullman, from the YES! website

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