CFYJ with students from Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools of Public Policy
By Pauline Cao
This morning, the Alliance for Youth Justice, in partnership with the Campaign for Youth Justice, participated in a stimulating presentation for a class at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools of Public Policy. Mary Kate, Kate, and Daniela are three graduate students at Smith College School for Social Work and have been working with the Campaign over the past few months, researching and creating useful fact sheets. Part of their project is to engage the community about juvenile justice issues, and what better way is there to engage the community than engaging the youth themselves?
The students at the Chavez School learn about public policy and social justice issues to empower them to use critical thinking as civic leaders that are committed to bettering the world. These high school students at the Capitol Hill campus are very intelligent and absorbed in the issues. They were engaged and had enlightening comments to contribute throughout the entire presentation.
The presentation consisted of discussions about juvenile justice issues and a panel that was facilitated by CFYJ’s Shanta’ Gray. The panel comprised of two CFYJ Spokespersons, Michael Kemp and Keila Hailes. Michael is a formerly incarcerated youth, and Keila’s son is a youth that was affected by the system.
After hearing Michael and Keila’s stories, the students were able to ask questions and have captivating discussions with the spokespeople. For example, during a discussion about education for youth after serving time, they often are sent to alternative schools instead of their typical class setting they were at before they were incarcerated. One student bravely opened up about how he went to an alternative school before attending a Chavez School and he is grateful for the school he is at now. He powerfully said, “I got out and I’m never going back”. In fact, this student is graduating this year.
The students at Cesar Chavez had to do a take away ticket at the end of the presentation, the take away was to share the information they learned in the presentation with their peers and the community. The students suggested sharing the material with teachers, friends, and specifically friends who have been affected by criminal justice system in Washington, DC.