Hello and welcome to the Youth HEALers blog. This is an introductory post to tell you who we are. Today’s blog post is brought to you by Miguel and the free wi-fi at this coffee shop.
Who are the Youth Healers?
Officially we are a group of young people ages 24 and under who have experiences with homelessness and housing insecurity who are fighting to end youth homelessness in the city of Philadelphia.
The acronym HEAL stands for Housing, Education, Action, and Leadership which shows a little bit of what our mission as an organization is.
While our overall goal is to end youth homelessness in Philly, as Healers we want to be able to take our experiences and stories and share them to give a voice to the underheard. Young people are so often left out of the conversation when it comes to homelessness and so people don’t know what it looks like and don’t know what to do to help.
That’s where the Healers come in!
We’re here to educate the community about the life of young people experiencing housing insecurity in Philly, whether that means living in a shelter, couch surfing, or some other form of unstable housing that youth experience. We are also here help promote the creation of solutions by youth themselves to help empower and support youth affected by homelessness. We want to make connections with communities, leaders, and decision makers to make real change about the issue that is youth homelessness.
This has barely begun to scratch the surface of who the Healers are and what we do.
I can keep saying that we are fighting to end youth homelessness and what the acronym stands for until I’m blue in the face, but it only gives a slight glimpse into the life of a Healer.
Myself, I started with the Youth Healers in February or March of this year. It was still the very beginning for the Healers being that the organization formed in January, in fact I was told that the name Youth HEALers Stand Up was thought of just during the last meeting before I was brought in. I found out about this group when I was participating in the Philly Youth Count survey one of the adult leaders in my group told me about it and eventually connected me to Rashni, the adult organizer for the Youth Healers. I was telling this person that as someone who has experience with living in shelters as a small, anxious, visibly queer 19-year-old, I want to do more for people who are still in that situation. I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. I know that my experiences were extremely stressful and traumatic at times and I want to make sure that one day there is a future where no young person has to go through what I went through. That’s why I joined the Healers.
We have a number of initiatives in the works, from visioning sessions, to support groups, to developing models for youth-led housing programs. This summer however we are mainly focused on our Heal the Future Youth Power Conference.
August 18th will be our first annual Heal the Future conference, a conference put together by young leaders for young leaders and allies. We will be joined by youth leaders from local youth-led groups including:
The Young Adult Leadership Committee @ The Office of Homeless Services
Youth Fostering Change
Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project
Bartrams Village Dancers from Bartrams Village affordable housing community
Philadelphia Student Union
The Village of Arts and Humanities
We’ll be hosting workshops that focus on things like how to go about advocating for social justice while also dealing with housing insecurity, how to strategize for social change as a young person, and also teaching skills to adult leaders and decision makers on how to work with youth and make sure they’re listening to and respecting us.
With teaching these skills to adults and working with them so they can be better prepared to help us, we’re working on one of our current platforms which is to help professionals working in these youth serving institutions be able to more effectively treat and help youth with cultural differences, mental health issues, and/or LGBTQ issues.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR CONFERENCE, REGISTER, OR SEE HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT THE HEALERS MISSION