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Youth in Action: Peer Leader Summer Graduation

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IBA’s Peer Leader Summer Graduation had it all; laughter, heartfelt thanks, and even a few backflips! The event was focused on the Youth Development Program, celebrating the end of another successful summer.

Kicking off the event, youth from each workshop shared their testimony about what they learned this summer, and how it affected them.

“I had a lot stronger voice than I realized”, said Donna, a participant in the creative writing workshop.

Each testimonial was followed by a performance from each of the workshops, which allowed the youth to show off their new skills. From an all-female spoken word piece about the power of womanhood to a group dance focusing on discrimination, each performance had both strength and fun.

After the performances, the youth participants spoke about the new murals they unveiled at O’Day Park, joining the mural about youth violence from last summer. This year’s unveiling consisted of several new murals created by teams from the Youth Development Program. Each mural was inspired by a different aspect of youth violence and how the youth interpreted the concept. The first mural makes use of the color red to symbolize youth violence, with a boy in blue dreaming of peace. The second focuses on how violence in media can negatively affect young people.

On the other side of the original mural, the third mural accentuates at the word “ghetto” and dismantles the negative stereotypes that are often associated with it. As a result of the music workshop, the fourth mural features Tupac’s words “we all bleed from similar veins,” examining how music can bring people together around the world. The fifth mural highlights sports and their ability to bring neighborhoods and nations together. “Communication is key” is written in mosaics across the last mural, which looks at how conflict can often be prevented if things are talked about before conflict occurs.

Before the ceremony, some of the Program Coordinators talked about their experiences, such as developing new workshops. Youth Supervisor Oladipupo Ogundipe shared his unique perspective with us. As a previous youth participant, Ladi came back to our program to lead a music workshop with this summer’s youth. He used his poetry skills from his time as a Peer Leader as well as music production to create the brand new workshop. It was great to see a former Peer Leader come back to us, bringing his time with the Youth Development Program full circle.

“I forgot that I, too, am a student,” said Taneyri De Jesus, who led the creative writing workshop. She spoke about how she learned alongside the participants, explaining how she had to adjust her original plans based on the youth in her workshop, and their needs.

Before the certificates were given out, there was a surprise in store! One of the participants, Jeshayla, asked for the 

microphone for a last minute speech. She thanked the Program Coordinators for their time and dedication, saying, “Thank you for making me a better person.”

The ceremony focused on the the successes of the youth participants, from thriving in their first cycle with the Youth Development Program, to going off to college and leaving the program after several cycles. The Program Coordinators each shared short anecdotes about each participant before giving them their certificates, sharing what made the them special and what they brought to the program each day. We were happy to hear about the friendships and progress made by our participants this year.

IBA’s Youth Development summer program was made possible by the generous support of the John Hancock MLK Summer Scholars Program, the Division of Youth Engagement and Employment, the Amelia Peabody Foundation, State Street, and United Way. We thank them and all of our donors that make our program possible year round.

We are so proud of our Peer Leaders and hope that the work we did this summer makes a lasting impression. For more information about our Youth Development Program, you can contact Program Director Lauren Bard at lbard@ibaboston.com. (617) 535-1757

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