This summer, I did an interview talking about my experiences being homeless while also discussing family trauma. However, what didn’t make it into the article was how I managed to get out of that situation, and all the hard work that me and my team at Youth HEALers Stand Up have done to keep youth, adults, and the community informed about what’s going on in our communities relating to youth experiencing homelessness.
In the mist of my desire to help people like me I became a Youth Healer.
A Youth Healer is a person that advocates for youth ages 13-24 that are dealing with homelessness and/or housing insecurity. For us, housing insecurity can mean a number of things like staying in an overcrowded home, couch surfing, or even a situation like having mold in your walls and it’s unsafe to live there.
During my time of being a Youth Healer I have had the honor of working on a bunch of different activities leading up to our Heal the Future conference I and my teammates have been working hard on helping to plan and coordinate.
My favorite experience this summer has been working with children of Bartram’s Village, an affordable housing complex that is in the process of redevelopment in Southwest Philly. I have gotten to meet so many wonderful kids there that are interested in changing their community and making it a better place. There, me and other members of the Healers created and led a visioning session and an arts workshop to help them take power into their own hands. These workshops teach them how to have a voice and a say with what happens in their community while it is going through redevelopment. While we teach them about how to improve their community, we also help them get together an ideas they would like to present at the Heal the Future Youth Power conference that the Healers are hosting alongside other great youth-led organizations.
The Heal the Future conference will showcase the abilities of youth activists and advocates and the many great things they have accomplished in creating change for youth in Philadelphia. The youth will be teaching others about ways to make change as a young person, ways to deal with ageism and discrimination, and strategies different youth groups use for different issues, from youth homelessness, to educational justice, mass incarceration, and workforce development for young people.
I am very excited for this event and very proud of my team and myself. I have also been able to plan out and participate meetings to recruit and prep youth led social justice groups in the city, called different venues to secure space, plan conference activities, invite decision-makers and youth groups to attend, plan discussion questions and event materials, and everything else we need in order for the event to run as smoothly as possible. I have also been getting to know the other members of Youth HEALers Stand Up, like Joseph Hill-Coles who is a Healer’s member, as a community navigator at Youth Service Inc. where he helps youth like me find housing, employment and other resources.
Not only have I a learned about so many different organizations and groups in Philly that are willing to help Youth in the community become who they want to be. I have also come to realize that not only do politicians and government officials have power, but we as young people in Philly have power to change the ways of our communities and to better ourselves and those around us.
To learn more about the Healers please register for our Heal the Future Conference, whether you are a young person who wants to make a difference, or who has struggled with homelessness, dropping out, or incarceration, OR if you are an adult who wants to help.
To hear more about Cori's work, check out her interview as a local Changemaker with Cherri Gregg on FlashPoint at KYW.