If the onslaught of media coverage of sexual assault has you discouraged, we have an antidote. It comes in the form of 10 young people, all members of BARCC's innovative Youth Leadership Corps (YLC). These youth are the next generation of leaders in the movement to end sexual violence.
Created in 2015 as part of the Youth Access to Support and Services collaboration, BARCC’s YLC program provides young people ages 14–19 the opportunity to develop skills to become change agents in their communities. Gina Scaramella, BARCC’s executive director, describes the program: “The Youth Leadership Corps gives teens the opportunity to be activists in the movement to end sexual violence and helps ensure that BARCC is accessible, welcoming, and helpful to young people.”
All of the YLC’s work builds on foundational training they receive on issues that include sexual violence, social justice, gender and sexuality, healthy relationships, and more. As they work together, they cultivate skills in community activism, outreach, teamwork, and communication.
“The young people in the YLC really take ownership over the group’s direction, priorities, and projects. Whether educating their peers, or providing feedback to BARCC about working with youth, the YLC members use their voice to empower other youth. I am constantly inspired by their commitment to youth survivors, to social justice, and to breaking down rape culture,” says Patrick Donovan, BARCC’s youth clinical outreach coordinator. In YLC focus groups, one youth explained, “We are developing our own ideas of how we want to get the message out. . . . and the [coordinator] is letting us take the ideas in the direction we want to take them.”
YLC members create projects to educate their peers, schools, and others, and they also advise BARCC on our services and outreach. In the past, their work has included developing and conducting a training on consent for the Melrose Alliance Against Violence’s Youth Leadership Summit on Healthy Relationships in February 2016. This February, which is Youth Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, YLC members are spearheading a social media campaign on consent. Stay tuned to BARCC’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to check out their campaign!
One of the most exciting things about the YLC is witnessing the empowering impact that it has. Look at the advances that YLC members made in speaking out against sexist and violent language over a school year:
The impact is about more than numbers, though. Here’s how a former member of the YLC talked about the experience: “I first applied to BARCC’s Youth Leadership Corps in hopes of becoming connected and aware of the community around me. But, I’ve gotten much more than that. By being a part of BARCC, I’ve seen myself go from someone who had very little interest in the world, to someone who truly pays attention. . . . I’m becoming more involved with the community and activism. The me now can stand up for myself and others in the face of injustice. Because of BARCC, I’ve become the best me I’ve ever wished to be.”
Read below to meet just a few of our awesome youth leaders!
Meet a few Youth Leadership Corps members
Riot Diaz, age 19
Why did you join the YLC? I want to spread the message of ending sexual violence to other young people. I want to support survivors like me, and let them know they aren’t alone.
What’s your favorite YLC moment? Every moment is my favorite . . . teaching workshops, the Walk for Change, laughing. . . . It’s all so amazing, magical, and healing.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? To end all forms of oppression. I want all creatures to be able to live their lives, liberated and free.
Emma Grinspoon, age 16
Why did you join the YLC? I joined the YLC because sexual violence is an issue that I am incredibly passionate about and want to devote my life to. I have seen the damage of sexual violence and rape culture on my community, and I still have so much more to learn. I wanted the chance to take action on the issue I care most deeply about while meeting people my age who share the same passion.
What’s your favorite YLC moment? My favorite YLC moment was brainstorming ideas for our amazing projects with the many intelligent, empowered YLC members. I love that we can have engaging conversations about real topics, yet still manage to laugh and have fun.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to talk to animals. I think I could have really quality conversations with my dogs.
Jennifer Phan, age 18
Why did you join the YLC? I needed to be more aware and connected to my community.
What’s your favorite YLC moment? I have so many memorable moments—from our jokes, to our events, to our notes for one another. Everything is my favorite!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Invisibility for more easily looking at things from another perspective.
Charlotte Sedgwick, age 18
Why did you join the YLC? To learn more about sexual violence, spread that knowledge to other young people, and make them more aware of BARCC’s services.
What’s your favorite YLC moment? When we did the workshop about consent at the Youth Leadership Summit on Healthy Relationships.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Telekinesis or flying or mind reading or being able to communicate with animals. . . . I can’t decide!