Written in partnership with Luna Stephens
Sunrise Project’s Summer of Service 2016 culminated with Advocacy Week (July 18-22), a week-long project dedicated to learning about issues such as street harassment, consent and sexual assault, race and white privilege, relationship violence and a spectrum of LGBTQI+ topics.
“This week was more about learning” Katie Baldwin-Faling said. “You could learn those other [Summer of Service] weeks too, but this one’s more about learning about activists and causes.” Representatives from Hollaback! Lawrence, The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center, NAACP and Willow Domestic Violence Center led hands-on workshops throughout the week.
In addition to learning, youth engaged in action as well. They took to the streets and hung flyers they created with lines such as, “I’ll wear whatever I want.” They chalked other anti-harassment and consent-based statements in front of the Lawrence Public Library: “Just because I move in public space does not mean by body IS public space.”
Avery Carroll articulated the youth’s appreciation for the action-oriented aspects of the week, “it was nice because we were actually *actively* doing something and not just talking… we are making a difference…”
Each day of the week offered time to learn about and also discuss the range of topics. The space and time devoted to discussion was a treasured element of the week.
“I think the biggest part was that everybody here got to share their experiences,” Aiofe Trotter reflected. “Instead of learning more about just the statistics it was really nice to hear what other people think in my community.”
It was an eye-opening, yet fun week, with new ideas and realities presented to the youth in a laid-back and welcoming environment.
Twelve year-old Kensington Comfort said that Advocacy Week was the “best part of my summer.” Her friend Katie Balwing-Faling reflected on the learning experiences:
Sometimes we don’t really know that much about what’s going on in the world and if you start learning about it now and how you can help - maybe you’ll continue thinking about that when you become an adult and have your own money… If you get involved when you’re young then you’ll keep being involved.”
Aoife learned a lot about racism, “When the NAACP came and talked to us, it just kind of opened my eyes to the racial issues, like it’s just not blatant racism all the time it’s a lot of microagressions and stuff like that."
Sunrise Project will continue to grow youth engagement programming and will offer more social justice and service-learning opportunities. In fact, the inspired youth from Advocacy Week plan to get together soon for more social justice art projects, flyering, chalking and a possible movie night that delves into a social issue they would like to learn more about.
Know a youth that would like to participate in Sunrise Project youth programming? Contact Melissa, Director of Programs at email@example.com