I am so blessed to do the work that I do serving children, families, individuals and organizations that most times, it rarely feels like I am working. This past Tuesday night, I had the amazing opportunity to be involved in the children’s group at Family Support Organization of Essex County (FSOEC). The group meets during the peer support group for parents/caregivers in a nearby room. Hazeline Pilgrim, the Executive Director, greeted me with a welcoming smile and introduced me to a new intern, Danielle, who is doing amazing things with the youth group. I also met Kyiesha, the caring and creative woman who is running the children’s group. Shortly after, I got to meet some of the children in attendance and we began our job to change the world.
FSOEC has a strong history of finding creative ways for Youth Voice to spread positive messages and mental health awareness to educate professionals, families and peers. We have a strong history of working together to Nurture Hearts in Essex County. For this project, we explained our vision for encouraging children and teens to express themselves by creating their own “happy street signs” based on the currently featured signs found in some U.S. cities, including in our own backyard in Newark. Children and teens are on the ground and they know best what they want in their homes, schools and neighborhoods. As much as I love working with adults and organizations, being at the ground level with children and teens is really what I see as the best way to make change that lasts—but of course, they and their families need our help and support.
Another thing I adore is collaborating with Hazeline and her team at FSOEC. My vision is to have children and teens put their messages on their personalized Positivity Plaza posters and then to display them at our upcoming event. Hazeline has a bigger vision—to encourage more children and youth to inspire change in their schools and neighborhoods after they are debuted on November 19th, 2015 at Igniting Fires For Heart-Centered, Positive and Rational Change. It was so exciting to hear about this vision and to see there was a way to make this a bigger movement as opposed to a one-time event. As a social worker, I could feel my inner advocate applauding this idea! I can imagine it becoming like a conga line for inspiring change. The Youth Partnership’s tagline is Be the Change and along with the up and coming change-makers from the children’s group, I can see them all taking this new initiative to greater heights to change our world.
If you would like to attend our event designed for professionals working with children and youth to see these Positivity Plaza signs debuted, click the link above. If you cannot make it but would like to support this amazing youth guided cause, go to the FSOEC website and make a donation and be sure to let them know you are supporting the “Be the Change” project with the happy street signs. Stay tuned for updates as the happy street signs begin to take life.