“My Hood, My City” Calls on Black Youth; Paid Fun
By Dianne Anderson
Teens and youth are hitting the streets in a good way this summer honing their multimedia skills, and activating their storytelling abilities all while spotlighting what they feel are the best things going on in their own neighborhoods.
“My Hood, My City” program is now reaching out for participation from Long Beach youth from 14-24 years old who want to make a positive impact while earning a little extra money on the side.
Through the program, they will bring youth perspectives while learning about some of the resources and assets that exist in their own backyards. The hope is that they will go back and share the information and assets they’ve discovered with family and friends.
In other words, knowledge is power.
“They build skills that are transferable and they will be engaged, hopefully that builds better mental health outcomes because they have a sense of belonging in their communities and have a purpose. [It’s] that they know their communities have access and cool things going on,” said Montzerrat Garcia-Bedolla, interim program manager for the Long Beach office and Southern California Director of Programs.
They will develop levels of digital multimedia podcasts, video and photography galleries as they identify what they feel is important for their community to learn. Their stories will be shared on LBTV, the city’s website, newsletters and social media.
The program looks to attract youth of color from West and North Long Beach and the Washington area, and is led by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Youth Development in partnership with the Youth Leadership Institute. The deadline for applications is 7:00 p.m. July 12.
Garcia-Bedolla feels it’s also one way to beat the post-pandemic blues by creating a sense of belonging to counteract social isolation, and hopefully decrease negative mental health impact. Participants are not required to be in school, but if they are students, she said they can access a broad array of mentoring opportunities and support at their office.
While they do not provide direct service, she said they take a holistic approach and have numerous connections to make sure their young people have what they need to move toward their goals and careers. In high school, she said they offer college prep support, and mental health resources.
“If they are old enough to go to college, we provide that as well, or if they just need support to make it happen,” she said. “We try to focus on youth leadership. We want to keep them engaged because they signed up for a reason.”
Ten or more youth will be chosen, and the more the merrier. The program starts via Zoom with staff ready to work with participants every week. Free transportation is available.
Because their office is centered in Central Long Beach, many of the youth immediately attracted to their program are from Poly High School, but she said with this project, they want to get deeper into North Long to reach Black youth.
“It’s where we know the demographic is a greater population of Black folks and it’s something that they can be part of and are welcome. It’s open to all, and strategically trying to uplift community voices that are not in the mainstream, Black youth, Filipino and Latino youth,” she said.
Depending on the turnout of applicants, youth that commit for the next three to four months will earn a stipend. Those that continue with programming are also invited to join other opportunities at the Youth Leadership Institute office, including mentorship.
“I’m excited for this program that allows young people to have a seat at a table but also decide what their community means to them and show this is what our community has to offer,” she said. “Anytime young people have a chance to tell their story, it’s already a win.”
Applications opened up on May 27 and can be phoned in or submitted until July 12. On the following day, youth are invited to attend an orientation meeting, where they can decide if they want to continue through the program.
“We hope to empower youth in these neighborhoods to gain a sense of pride for where they grew up,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “These opportunities allow young people to learn the history of their neighborhood and further shape the story of where they live.”
For questions on the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
To apply, see https://yli.org/program/my-hood-my-city/