By Jersey-Shabazz Hosier, CASA Instructor at East Austin College Prep in Austin, Texas
This past November 7 gave groundbreaking wins for an array of minority candidates across the country—including those on East Austin College Prep’s (EA Prep) campus—as the season Officer Candidacy Election was held.
CASA’s Youth Advisory Board members listen as each candidate gives their pitch for office.
For two weeks, our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) members gained endorsements from both teachers and staff in preparation for Election Day. All YAB members were able to take home a victory. The solidification of positions means these young people have an official title that comes with real responsibilities, and gives them the opportunity to bring about real change.
This year’s YAB is a tightly knit group of sixth to eighth graders who are robust, candid, and thoughtful in their words and actions. Their brainstorming for the program’s signature project further demonstrated that children are a precious resource, as they are just starting out in the world are open to new ideas. Often, young people often understand more than we would like to believe.
“Children’s perspectives matter.”
Program director Jersey-Shabazz Hosier sought ideas from each YAB member—they would tackle one issue each—for the student-led podcast. He presented the question “Considering the podcast will be an international platform to communicate with other people around the world— what are some political topics that you all want to discuss?”
The students’ responses will only flabbergast the doubtful. Sixth-grader Isaac Villegas, who takes a knee every day during the pledge, wants to talk how Colin Kaepernick taking a knee impacts his athletic career. Villegas thinks freedom of speech should extend to both students and professional athletes; he worries about the way the Constitution may work for some and not all.
The second response quickly followed the first. Genesis Rodriguez in eighth grade is concerned about how Congress is currently bidding on an overhaul of the state insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act.
Sha’Kristen Wilson added her concerns regarding racial and gender pay inequalities, super necessary. Speaking on behalf of many of all colleagues and those that are so privileged to have these compassionate, knowledge hungry, reliant children in their lives on the day-to-day lives: we are numb to their wokeness.
So far, aside from anchoring on to the international humanitarian relief movement, our YAB members look forward to heading local projects in this upcoming Beautification Day; such projects can range from tree planting to creating art in public space. Similarly, in the near future, YAB members eagerly wait to kick off on-campus College Day in a big way.
Overall, the YAB members aspire to put a youth perspective on all in which they interact with—because children’s perspectives matter.
The 2017-2018 CASA Youth Advisory Board
Imelda Angeles Lopez
Director of Community Relations
Commissioner or Ethics