On November 10th, from 4 to 6 pm, at the Washtenaw County Administration Building in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was the 2014 YouthSpeak meeting.
YouthSpeak is an annual youth public forum that empowers young people to advocate on their own behalf. Represenatative Rutledge, Sheriff Clayton, Washtenaw County prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie, Superintendents of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, State Representative Adam Zemke, Washtenaw Department of Human Services, and WISD all attended this forum. Youth were asked to write and present a 2-3 minute speech telling local decision-makers what safety meant to them.
Here’s what an employee of H.O.P.E. said:
What Safety Means to Me
“I am an 11th grade student at Ypsilanti High School. I work as a tutor for Dedicated to Make a Change. In school, I feel pretty safe, but as a student, I don’t think safety is the biggest issue in the school. I really think that, as a community, [we] should focus more on education. If we had a strong focus on learning, there would be fewer safety problems. For example, I have a class without a teacher. In this class, the students walk into class not expecting to learn, but to sit there and waste an hour of class that should be used to gain the privilege of a public education. Thank you.”
Dedicated to Make a Change, L3C is an all-inclusive youth organization. We support learning in a holistic and civic-minded fashion and provide high-quality, diverse opportunities for youth to learn through action about justice, diversity and social responsibility. We work with teens in Washtenaw County to support their dreams and restore their excitement in learning. One program in particular is focused on helping young teen’s combat academic iniquity and thrive in spite of a school system that is failing them: H.O.P.E., or Having Opportunities for Positive Education. Another of our program is Prevent and Prevail which is a comprehensive sex education program where youth-facilitate HIV prevention program. The teens host discussions of sex, empowerment, identity, orientation, expression, and prevention for STIs and HIV for their peers.
The youth who wrote the blog entries were from the H.O.P.E. program. The blogging opportunity gave a opportunity to look objectively at youth concerning youth “hate” crimes. Most of the youth have witnessed gun violence in their community, but analyzing and understanding impact of gun violence in regards to hate crimes was an eye opening experience. Viewing this situation offered a chance to critically think about what it means to “hate” without knowing someone. We discuss sexual and gender identity, and what it means to be an ally.
The youth at DTMAC are dedicated to making a positive impact on the community they reside in. when they were presented with the opportunity to go see the documentary Valentine’s Road they were overly ecstatic. When asked to record some of their thoughts they did so…
The movie told a lot of hurtful things. I did not know what to expect of Larry’s appearance, but before the movie I visualized what everybody was going to look like. All of Larry’s friends were very hurt to lose him. Brandon took a young man’s life, and by doing so he made a grown man decision. Larry was a young man with a joyful heart but it was took by a peer. If you haven’t watched this movie you should go see it
Class of 2016
My experience with watching the film “Valentine Road” really put me between a rock and a hard place. It was challenging on the thought of whether the defendant should be sentenced life or a hand full of years. This film sent out so many messages, and eye-openers. It also shows us the type of society we live in, and have to survive through on an everyday bases. It would be best for this film to be spread around internationally not just targeting teens and minors, but everyone! Once again this is a fantastic film.
Class of 2016
The documentary Valentine’s Road was a very emotional, interesting, and detailed film. The film was based on a young boy who was shot and killed by his middle school classmate because of sexual orientation. It expressed the terrible feelings of Larry’s fellow classmates and friends. In my opinion this is a great documentary.
Class of 2016
Valentine rode was one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen this year. This movie was more than I can put into words. Its so hard to come to an understanding about how you feel after you watch it. It was more of a documentary in a movie form. Its breath taking. Its something you would want to watch over and over again just to make sure you didnt miss anything. If you haven’t seen this film yet, YOU NEED TO!!!!
Class of 2016
Valentines Road was a very amazing and beautifully directed documentary. It opened my eyes to the reality of how judgmental society can be towards the Trans community. It also showed me that hate crimes are rarely ever handled fairly in the justice system. I hope that one day victims of hate crimes are not made to like they are the blame for their own harassment, assaults, and even murders.
Class of 2015, BSW