Youth Initiative Summer 2016 is in the books!
September 2, 2016
The busiest season for the Youth Initiative has officially come to a close. Looking back on the past three months, it’s hard to imagine all we have accomplished and witnessed.
We were blessed to welcome 283 total participants from 23 different churches in 10 different states. These hard-working, motivated, and energetic youth and adults completed over 5,600 service hours to Philadelphia. They travelled all over the city, being a part of our neighborhoods and learning contextually about urban poverty. They learned about food justice, housing insecurity, addiction and recovery. They listened to stories of people drastically different from themselves. And, they prepared for what’s to come next.
Each youth left this summer with an action plan, a scheme for how to continue working upon their returns home. In completing these action plans, the youth considered what issues stuck with them at the end of week, what resources they had available to themselves, what is at stake if they don’t continue to work for justice, and an outline of their next steps.
The Youth Initiative is so grateful to have the opportunity to serve our beloved guests here at BSM and our neighbors – to listen to stories, to be in community, and to serve with hospitality. But, the Youth Initiative doesn’t want to just stop at one week of service. We are committed to educating the next generation of leaders. The 283 participants this summer are working towards ensuring that there is a future in which love conquers fear of the Other, in which justice is granted to all, and the walls that divide us from our neighbors are permanently dismantled.
We can tell you all about participants’ takeaways from this summer, but they say it so much better. Here’s what they said in reflection of their week with the Youth Initiative:
“…what we are trying to do here is hard. Leading young people to encounter this city – its brokenness and promise – is hard…we need God’s strength and courage to keep at it. Because we need to keep at it. We need to keep having hard conversations about all the beauty and brokenness in our world.”
“Through this week I have gained a powerful insight. People need help. We need to stop pawning it off, saying “somebody’s gotta fix that.” It is us. It is now.”
“The things that I have seen this week have really opened my eyes to a different lifestyle that I could never imagined going through. I feel so lucky to have what I have when I see that, really, I have a lot. This week at BSM has changed me forever.”