We’re Involved! Are You?

By Chris Ly
New Organizing Project blogger
==============================================

This past week has been one of the greatest experiences I had this summer thus far. I had the privilege to attend a 4-day leadership conference at Oxford Emory called Georgia Teen Institute (GTI), a statewide initiative by Gwinnett United in Drug Education, Inc. (GUIDE).

GTI started as an initiative to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse related issues within the community, particularly among youth. GUIDE has been actively involved in the prevention by offering funding, resources and leadership programs/conferences to youth action teams (YATs) all over Georgia. They also encourage YATs to come up with their own prevention project with a prevalent issue within the community we come from. Their mission is to mobilize the youth to apply prevention projects in their community.

I, along with six youth participants and one other adult supervisor, attended GTI to learn more about prevention projects that we can implement in the high school youth program at CPACS, Community Action for Teens (CAT). At this year’s GTI, we decided to work on the issues of immigration.

As many of you already know, Georgia has passed HB 87, an anti-immigrant legislation, into law. We plan on raising awareness to make sure the citizens of the community know exactly when it’ll take effect and how it’ll effect them.  We also planned to have an after-math event in which we trace the exact effect it has taken on Georgia’s population, agriculture and economy.

Our first event will take place at CPACS. We will be handing out fliers and brochures to inform the community of its specific requirements. Also we will hold a seminar to further inform those who are more curious or who would just like to discuss about it. We will be passing out fliers and brochures at CPACS on June 27th, 2011. I do hope that any of you who will be around the neighborhood stop by and see what the youth have done to raise awareness in the community. This will also be a showcase of their hard work and dedication.

At GTI, there were about 400 youth participants. In past years, there were about 100-150 youth participants, but fortunately enough for GUIDE, they received generous funding to allow more youth participants to come and get involved.

Each youth present attends certain workshops, that GTI provides, that fit their interest. With these workshops, they bring back the information gathered to their YATs and work on projects to better then community and Georgia as a whole.

Think about it, these are 400 youths, middle school to college students, from Georgia who take time out of their summer and attend the 4-day conference because of their common passion for the community.

I attended as an adult supervisor and was satisfied with my presence there. They even had workshops for the adult supervisors to also give them ideas about certain projects for the YATs. GTI offered workshops from Internet safety to bettering your relationship with your legislators for adults. The workshops weren’t only informational and educational, but entertaining as well. Something that was absolutely amazing and stood out to everyone, was the fact that these participants have never met each other nor had they had prior relationships, but with the common love for the community, all 400 youth participants were able to come together and work towards a better Georgia.

For those youths who don’t get involved in the community, you should! It’s something that you would want to do when you’re of old age, and may regret that you didn’t do it earlier. Giving back to the community is a priority and a passion of mine, along with the 400 youths from GTI. I’m very proud of the work that CAT has done to get this far. They stayed on task all four days and were able to finish the prevention project they came up with. We’re involved…are you?