Youth Can Create Change!

Four Youth of Promise participants, Ashanti, Rayana, Carlos, and Gabriel, stepped up to the challenge when asked if they’d commit to participating in this year’s Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Youth Leadership Initiative Program in National Harbor, Maryland.

CADCA represents individuals who are working to make their communities safe, healthy and drug-free. One of their signature programs is all about training youth leaders to be effective agents of change. While there, the youth learned how they can be part of an effort to create change.

The trip gave Carlos and Gabriel their first experience ever on a plane. And it gave all four young people their first opportunity ever to speak directly with a politician and articulate the needs they see in their own community.

Here they are with Congresswoman Judy Chu and Flintridge staff Janet Ramirez, J.D. Williams, Lisa Wilson, and Deon Shorter in Congresswoman Chu’s office in Washington.

The experience of talking face-to-face with a Member of Congress was empowering for these students. Being able to talk with Congresswoman Chu made the whole idea of working to create change come alive.

Plus, they learned that anyone can write a letter to a Congressperson. That was a surprising bit of knowledge. Wow!

The topics they chose to present during their meeting with Congresswoman Chu reflected their experiences at home. Ashanti spoke about her frustration that she can’t even visit a local market with her little nephew, who’s just a toddler, because there are always people hanging around outside the market using drugs. Rayana talked about how alcohol abuse affects her family. Carlos talked about community violence and how badly he wants to make his community safe. Gabriel shared his experience seeing the impact of substance abuse on his family. All four were confident in their presentations and passionate about their own stories.

They were also able to see some of the sights in DC. Here they are at the Lincoln Memorial!

The experience of representing not only Flintridge Center, but also the City of Pasadena and the State of California at CADCA gave Ashanti, Rayana, Carlos, and Gabriel a wider view of their own ability to create the positive changes they want to see. And that’s what this is all about.

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