Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Student Leaders Urge Others to Stay Involved

On Tuesday, April 9, Jill Gideon and Mnar Muhareb, facilitators of the SoundOut youth engagement program, congratulated the second class of SoundOut participants at a graduation ceremony held at Booker T. Washington High School. It was a time to reflect on all that the students learned over 22 weeks and commend them for their participation and implementation of three sustainable community projects: a community garden, a mentoring program, and a bullying awareness campaign. 

The SoundOut Program is geared towards youth who are interested in developing personal ownership of school improvement, learning the skills necessary to affect change in their lives and the lives of others, and becoming youth leaders by utilizing youth voice. Students learned effective strategies to advocate in and for the communities where they live and attend school. 

Class of 2013 SoundOut Graduates and Program Facilitators
at Booker T. Washington High School
“I’m glad I got to discover everyone’s learning talents,” said one graduate of the program. “This program enabled everyone to grow together.”

Aaron Cervantes, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School, was selecteed as the SoundOut Class speaker. This emerging trailblazer demonstrated exceptional leadership traits throughout the program and his remarks at graduation did not disappoint. He urged his peers to remain involved in their communities and advocate for issues that directly impact teenage youth. He shared a statement that resonated with his fellow graduates. "I'm here to destroy ephebiphobia. I believe in our youth."

Ephebiphobia, the fear of youth, is a concept Aaron and his classmates have a newfound passion to combat. As part of SoundOut, they spent several weeks addressing this and other discriminatory messages about teenage youth. Lessons in community service, advocacy, and academic achievement helped to frame their thoughts for facing such challenges moving forward in their student and adult lives. Aaron, who is committed to teaching others about ephebiphobia and advocating on behalf of youth in the future, explained in his keynote address, “None of us are the same as when we came here. Every single one of us is a leader in our own right... I
Aaron Cervantes, SoundOut graduate (12th grade) pictured with
facilitators Mnar Muhareb (L), Jill Gedeon (M), & Lizabeth Verano (R).
believe in all of us.”
The students completed an average of eighty community service hours through the SoundOut program, showing that youth are committed to their communities.
Congratulations to all the SoundOut graduates! Catalyst Miami wishes you the best as you strive for excellence in the next chapter of your lives.

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