Monday, August 20, 2012

Pool, School Supplies, And Paths of Nonviolence

This past Saturday one of AFSC's projects, Student Career Alternatives Program, hosted a back to schools pool party for youth k-12. While there was plenty of food, a pool beat the heat, and steady flow of live hip hop, this party was more then just a good time.

As the school year begins we wanted to create space where young people could not only receive all the school supplies they needed but also explore some of the deeper challenges they are likely to face this school year.

For the young ones the focus was how to treat ourselves and each other, how to love ourselves, and how to stand up for ourselves.

For the older students we explored how to identify systems of violence and oppression in the school system, from military recruiters, drug and gang violence, to underfunded schools in struggling neighborhoods. Every middle and high schools student got a copy of AFSC's, "It's My Life" guide to cool alternative post high school career resources and a DVD of "Before You Enlist", which focuses on feedback from youth recruits returning from Iraq and Afghanistan giving the real deal on military recruitment.

Some of us forget how hard it is to be young sometimes. We forget how much pressure we can feel to get on some sort of post high school path. In lower income communities, this pressure can be pretty intense. The options that are overwhelmingly pushed on students are college, the military, a very low wage job(which isn't easy to get these days), or selling drugs and robbing folks. It shouldn't surprise folks that the more resources someone has, the better their outcome tend to be.

The sad truth is that our society continues to pour resources into pockets, playgrounds, and schools of folks that are already have too much at the expense of everyone else. Military recruitment is a prime example pf America's crisis in economic priority.

Low and middle income youth are targeted for recruitment into a military that continues, year after year, to fight unpopular wars the make the super rich richer at the cost of human lives and tax payer dollars.

All in all the pool party was a success, everyone smile and laughed, most importantly everyone left with something important that they didn't have before.

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