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  • Writer's pictureRICJ

Summer 2022 at RICJ!

This year marks the first Summer that RICJ has been able to run its Youth Programs in-person since 2019! Here is an overview of all the work that our team and our youth have been doing:

After three long years, Project RESPECT Leadership Institute made an unforgettable return. In early July, 18 delegates joined the RICJ staff for a week-long, life-changing experience at Camp Canonicus. The delegates developed their community building skills while confronting issues of identity and privilege. They spent days and nights connecting with their peers about how they understand themselves, their friends, their families, and their communities. In addition to enjoying lake time and making smores, the delegates shared and learned from one another’s personal experiences with societal issues. On the last night of camp, the delegates’ hard work was demonstrated during the joyous Culture Night. Families brought delicious, home-cooked meals and celebrated their children’s grit and vulnerability, all the while learning meaningful lessons about their new friends through the Culture Night performances. At Project RESPECT Leadership Institute, we have one motto: Trust the process.

The following week, RICJ welcomed 22 youth facilitators to our summer jobs program, Youth Facilitating for Change (YFC). At YFC, youth facilitators come into our office for full weeks worth of intensive, fulfilling training about social justice issues, workshop facilitation, and workplace readiness. In addition to bolstering youth’s professionalism and empowering them to strengthen their leadership skills, Youth Facilitating for Change prepares our youth facilitators to create and run their own social justice workshops for groups throughout the Providence community. These workshops will be happening before the YFC graduation ceremony in mid-August.

Of course, there are so many members of RICJ that are essential to making the Youth Programs possible, namely our youth coordinators,camp counselors, and leaders Chelcie Speaks, Ayo Aina, Nathalya Peña, Josephine Cooke, Rafael Guzman, and Eymoni James. However, as we look to the future, we would like to spotlight some of the youth that made this year’s programs special: our delegates and youth facilitators! This summer, we have been blessed with an amazing group of youth. Some of them have even stuck with us through both Project RESPECT Leadership Institute and Youth Facilitating for Change. Here is a bit of what some of them have to say about their experience with RICJ:

Zarianne Dazulme is a rising sophomore at Achievement First Charter School. Zarianne participated in 2021’s hybrid version of Youth Facilitating for Change, and she has been a part of this year’s Project RESPECT Leadership Institute and Youth Facilitating for Change. This summer, Zarianne has done a lot of work. Through the social justice workshop that Zarianne and her group mates have created, Zarianne says that she has been able to broaden her understanding of racism and she feels more confident talking about how racism plays out on interpersonal and institutional levels. After this summer, Zarianne is excited to take the public speaking skills and the friendships that she developed at RICJ with her into the school year and beyond. Although Zarianne is still working on solidifying her understanding of different social justice concepts, such as cultural appropriation and the implications of “equity vs equality,” she believes that RICJ has helped her learn about issues and ideas that she has not been exposed to in the classroom at school. Zarianne hopes to bring this information with her into new conversations with her classmates. When looking back over her time this summer, Zarianne is proud of the friendships she has made and she wants to continue taking risks to speak up and use her voice.

Jordan Quinones is a rising freshman at Highlander Charter School who has been a part of this year’s Project RESPECT Leadership Institute and Youth Facilitating for Change.

Over the past month, Jordan has been a consistently kind and thoughtful member of RICJ who has continually opened up and demonstrated growth. Jordan says that he appreciates the sense of community that he has found at RICJ and he especially values being able to talk with and learn from his peers. During Jordan’s time at RICJ, he has been able to identify the traits in a leader that are meaningful to him, such as being inspiring and setting an example. Since Jordan is about to start high school, he hopes that he can continue to practice RICJ’s lessons about self confidence. Overall, Jordan says he is surprised that the Youth Facilitating for Change summer jobs program has been so much fun, considering that this is Jordan’s first job.

Reina Roche is a rising sophomore at La Salle Academy. Reina participated in 2021’s hybrid version of Youth Facilitating for Change, and she has been a part of this year’s Project RESPECT Leadership Institute and Youth Facilitating for Change. During her time at RICJ, Reina has been able to learn more about herself, how she works in a team, and how she presents herself to others. Reina says that these lessons will do a lot for her in her school work. Before doing RICJ last summer, Reina says she was extremely shy. She can recognize how much more comfortable she feels speaking up, starting conversations, and putting herself out there. Reina says RICJ is a big part of her, as she says, “spreading her butterfly wings.” Moving forward, Reina hopes that she can keep working with RICJ to help her project her voice.

Jonathan Quinones is a rising senior at Highlander Charter School who has been a part of this year’s Project RESPECT Leadership Institute and Youth Facilitating for Change. Before coming to RICJ, Jonathan has felt nervous about speaking up and has struggled with participation. Through his experience at Project RESPECT Leadership Institute, he has been able to feel more confident in sharing his ideas. Even though Jonathan says that he is not used to the kinds of affirmations that happen during the empowerment programs at RICJ, he says that these new experiences have helped him feel proud of himself for being well rounded. As one of the oldest members of the Youth Facilitating for Change summer jobs program, Jonathan brings some background knowledge with him to our workplace readiness trainings. Jonathan hopes to be able to help his fellow facilitators stay focused and smoothly transition between fun and serious activities.

Photo: Camp Project RESPECT Leadership Institute

Photo: Youth Facilitating for Change

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