"They don't respect my existence" was the feedback received from a mentee during a Bronx male Mentoring USA program session designed to process the pending Ferguson verdict and community policing in NYC.
Before Global Kids, I had a fear about what would happen if I opened my mouth. Would I get myself in trouble? Would I get my family in trouble? Global Kids taught us that what we have to say is important and that it can contribute to the discussions at hand.
A lot of young people don't know how to get what they need in terms of questioning power and authority, asking for change to happen and being at the table. Global Kids always invited us, and now I don't think about not being there. I'll be there.
Those of us pushing for community change know that community members are the engine of systemic changes in the attitudes, norms and behaviors that are necessary for big systems reform. So why is it so hard to engage the community?
Global Kids had an after-school program there. Then I started going to the Global Kids offices. It was always a blessing. Being someone who spoke with a heavy accent was not an issue. Being someone who had different ideas was not an issue.
Through a special project documenting the stories and experiences of 25 of our alumni who now range in age from 19 - 43, I am hearing of the profound impact of our collective work at Global Kids over the years.