click above to go directly to the Youth Say YES! website: www.youthsayyes.org
A national campaign of youth leading the change to make school communities safe and inclusive for all students. YES! provides the tools and you build the community.
The national spotlight has been trained on the devastating impact of bullying following the recent suicides of youth who were targets of bullying in their schools. Concerned adults, including parents, educators, advocates, and law enforcement, have scrambled to come up with effective solutions. Through YES! (Youth Establishing Strength), our national youth campaign, NCCJ gathered 300 high school students at a daylong conference to ask them what should be done to stop the epidemic of bullying that overshadows their lives. Integrating social media, technology, and the arts, the conference launched a multi-year initiative that promotes youth voices, strategies, and solutions nationwide. Employing NCCJ’s effective youth leadership model, this national campaign’s goals are to:
• reduce the incidence of bullying in participating schools by 25% in three years;
• improve school climate in the areas of safety, diversity awareness, and inclusion;
• increase the number, capacity, and visibility of youth leaders; and
• mobilize youth nationwide across all media platforms to end bullying.
WHY: The numbers are staggering: Bullying—the most common form of violence—affects 13 million youth annually, or nearly one-third of the school-age population in the U.S., estimates the White House. Targets of bullying struggle in school, may turn to alcohol and drugs, and experience physical and mental health issues into adulthood. Aggressors are more likely to become violent adults. Bystanders can become anxious or depressed, feeling powerless and uncertain of what to do. More than two-thirds of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, and a high percentage believes that adult help is infrequent and ineffective. Youth - those who are most directly impacted - have largely been left out of determining how best to address this pervasive issue. NCCJ aims to change that.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT: NCCJ respects youth as experts on their own experiences (including social media and cyberbullying), and as passionate leaders who can engage their peers more effectively than the adult community. Prejudice and bias are often the basis for bullying. We are creating the space for teens to identify and develop innovative solutions to bullying that targets ethnicity, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, looks, and/or abilities. NCCJ believes that youth should lead the change to transform their school communities into places where cruelty and exclusion are replaced by kindness and inclusion. With its unique approach of youth leadership, youth-driven solutions, and social media, the YES! campaign will go viral through youth social networks and school communities.
WHO: For 20 years, NCCJ has helped middle- and high-school students understand the origins and effects of prejudice, recognize the harmful effects of stereotypes, learn skills to decrease bullying in their schools, and become youth leaders. An established community resource with highly respected, popular youth programs, NCCJ is well positioned to lead this initiative. With its timeless mission “to fight bias, bigotry, and racism and promote understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures,” NCCJ has been opening minds and opening hearts since 1927. The campaign is led by youth from NCCJ’s ANYTOWN program—a nationally recognized diversity, leadership, and social justice program for high-school age students—and a team of adult advisors. Our Youth Leadership Team comes from all class backgrounds, a variety of religious traditions and family structures, diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, different abilities, and identify as straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning. They are leaders in their schools; are committed to exploring their own identities and biases; and want to create inclusive, just, and accepting communities where differences are strengths.
THEN WHAT: After the conference, trained youth leaders returned to their schools with effective and relevant action steps to lead the change, creating a ripple effect of positive change. April 2012, Filmed highlights will be featured on NCCJ’s website, YouTube channel, and on Facebook. Participants an campaign toolkit filled with the resources and strategies that youth identified, and curriculum developed by NCCJ’s program staff to guide student-led efforts. NCCJ will also support YES! teams through in-school trainings, and offer additional sessions of its ANYTOWN residential program to school teams for further youth-leadership development. NCCJ will mobilize youth through an online community across all media platforms, and develop a social media campaign based on conference findings.
WILL YOU SAY YES! TO OUR YOUTH? For more information, please contact Dr. Andrea Kandel at email@example.com or by phone at 860-683-1039 ext.103. Follow The YES! Campaign on Facebook, Twitter (@youthsayyes), at www.youthsayyes.org & YouTube (youthsayyes).