December  S'More 2014                                      2 0f 4                                                                  eBlast  




Welcome to week two of YES' December S'More Campaign celebrating the "Best of YES" in 2014! 

Each Tuesday in December we are highlighting success stories from 2014, and this week we introduce you to one of our Camp-to-Community youth leaders, Justin. Remember that it's not too late to make a difference as we strive to reach our year-end goal this December.

Warm wishes, 


Eric Aaholm, Executive Director


     Leadership Pathways, from Camp to the Community

In the summer of 2009, Justin was 12-years-old and attended camp through YES for the first time. That summer many things were inspirational, and five years later, he still credits his first summer camp counselor as someone who made a major impact in his life. 

"After my first camp experience, I decided I was going to be a role model and do something important that makes a difference in people's lives," Justin recalls.


Justin, pictured in the middle at YMCA Camp Loma Mar, was a Counselor-in-Leadership Training this past summer.


Since that first camp experience, Justin has put his words into action. Now in his second year of participation in YES' Camp-to-Community (C2C) youth development program, and specifically the Youth Engagement Team mentioned below, Justin has taken his learned skills and applied them to his latest engagement with the Richmond Youth Council. Together with his peers, Justin will provide input to the City of Richmond on all matters affecting youth.


"C2C has helped me challenge myself everyday and look to improve every aspect of my life in some way. Now I'm taking on more leadership by being a fundraising coordinator for the Interact club, and being a member of the Richmond Youth Council."


As a graduating senior this year, Justin has a bright future ahead including plans for college. In the meantime, his leadership voice and call to service are inspiring other youth to get involved with C2C, including his younger brother, Demetrio.  In the year ahead, we look forward to supporting and developing more youth like Justin who are applying their leadership skills at camp and back in their community.


    Youth-led Community Health & Wellness Research

2014 brought many new experiences for YES' C2C program like rock climbing, sea kayaking, biking trips, a high ropes course and an opportunity to engage in a Youth Participatory Action Research project thanks to a grant from Contra Costa County.


The 3rd C2C Youth Engagement Team cohort, launched in October 2014 and pictured above doing land restoration, will present their research and findings in spring 2015 at various YES and community events.


The project itself engages C2C youth in leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, and community-based research to address issues in their community around health and wellness issues and identify solutions applying known strategies.


To date, two Youth Engagement Team cohorts have conducted and presented participatory research around healthy food scarcity and access to safe, outdoor spaces in Richmond's neighborhoods. 


With the third Youth Engagement Team cohort underway, youth are starting the process to gain an awareness of the systemic conditions in their community and are becoming inspired to engage in advocacy work. 


Stay tuned for more C2C successes in the coming year! 




"At camp people care for each other, and it made me want to share the care they gave me. We all look out for each other, accomplish goals, and share the responsibility equally. It felt good." - Justin, YES C2C Youth



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