Every one of us can contribute to building healthy communities.
At A Place Called Home, we’re providing civics and community engagement programs to empower youth and ensure that their voices are heard and included in the changes to come in our neighborhood and the world.
Liliana Alonso Maya, our Civics and Community Engagement Coordinator, grew up in the neighborhood. She knows about struggle, and also about the power that comes with education and access.
“The area of South Central APCH serves has high poverty and illiteracy rates. Those factors lead our constituents to think change is impossible and that they can’t do anything about their community’s problems.
“Our goal through our civics and community engagement program is to change that mentality. We are teaching our youth about democracy and how to advocate for themselves and their peers and families.”
What’s involved in the civics and community engagement program?
While the program is still new, many initiatives have already been launched at APCH:
- Voter education — Educating community members on the issues, their rights and obligation to vote, as well as all the forms and documentation needed. And, that they’re not just voting on behalf of themselves, but also their family members and neighbors that may not be eligible to vote.
- Community cleanups — Helping families and neighbors take ownership of their communities and pride in their home.
- Neighborhood council meetings — Encouraging community members to participate in these open forums that provide an environment for neighbors to discuss solutions to community issues.
Last year for the midterm elections, we partnered with another agency to register and get out the vote, and just last month, we completed another youth-focused voter education workshop.
Not only did our teens learn about the importance of voting, but most of our 18-year-olds at APCH are now registered, and many of our 16- and 17-year-olds are preregistered.
It was gratifying to see the pride in the faces of our young people when we celebrated this critical step in their lives. We even had them on our theater stage, with their peers and staff cheering for them as they completed their voter registration applications.
Liliana shares, “I always talk to the teens about how important it is for them to get involved. And when they say, ‘I don’t want to be a politician’ I tell them, ‘I don’t want you to be a politician. I want you to understand politics because they affect us. They affect all of us in some way.’”
Learn more about our community engagement program, then let us know if you’d like to get involved!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead