MissionSAFE Fall Programs Start Off with Drive

MissionSAFE Youth Leadership Service Corps Peer Leaders will begin the fall program with a voter registration drive. Through October 15, these youth will be out in their communities connecting with citizens and providing those who need to do so, the opportunity to register to vote. Voter Registration is just one of the many community service and civic engagement activities in which MissionSAFE YLSC Peer Leadership participants take part.

Boston, MA, October 08, 2008 --(PR.com)-- MissionSAFE Youth will be learning hands-on the importance of civic engagement and making democracy work as they kick off the organization’s fall programming with Voter Registration Drives in Roxbury and Charlestown. Once again this year, MissionSAFE’s school-year programming will include the Youth Leadership Service Corps’ (YLSC) Peer Leadership program, which provides high-school aged youth with a safe space and enriching opportunities – including those that get them engaged with the greater community. And in this election year, with the Presidency and critical economic and foreign policy issues on the line, a voter registration drive seemed to be the perfect way to begin the fall.

From now through Election Day, MissionSAFE’s YLSC Peer Leaders will take part in workshops and activities aimed at engaging them in the upcoming election; learning and presenting on the importance of elections, elected officials, and the critical domestic and international issues of the day to the lives of everyday people – including themselves, their families and their communities. They will prepare to interact with citizens on the street, learning to speak briefly and to the point on the importance of voting and ways to register. Through October 15 – the final day do register – MissionSAFE Peer Leaders will be out at T stops and local shopping areas giving people who have not yet registered, a chance to do so. In the days leading up to the election, they will be back out in their communities encouraging people to vote on November 4th.

Voter Registration is just one of the many community service and civic engagement activities in which MissionSAFE YLSC Peer Leadership participants take part. The program was created to provide high-school aged youth with an out-of-school-time option that would support their educational efforts, offer additional training and skills, cultivate a sense of community engagement, and provide access to resources that might not exist elsewhere in their lives. Presented in a fun and inclusive way and at no financial cost to its participants, the ultimate goals of the MissionSAFE Peer Leadership program are to generate individual youth successes and, collectively, to improve the greater community.

“We strive to provide programming and opportunities through which each youth is able to identify and achieve his or her own, unique potential,” says MissionSAFE YLSC coordinator Kim Molle. “For some that may be getting into college, for others it may be passing a grade in high school, or learning a skill that might lead to a career in the arts. We will always evaluate the overall success of the organization based on the individual successes of our youth.”

As in years past, this year’s YLSC Peer Leadership program will consist of a combination of life skills and leadership trainings and workshops—which include communication and problem-solving, community service projects and organized career visits. Additionally, youth participants will have the opportunity to participate in internships such as drama, HealthCorps (in partnership with MGH Charlestown Healthcare Center), and TASC (Taking Action for Social Change). This year’s program will also feature an enhanced academic support component, which will include college preparatory assistance, homework help from staff and volunteers, and access to additional educational resources, all in an effort to meet the varied needs of MissionSAFE youth.

Shane Moralez, 17 of Charlestown, is beginning his second year as a YLSC Peer Leader and cites the academic support he received as a contributing factor in his passing certain courses at South Boston High School last year. It’s also one of the reasons he’s back with MissionSAFE this year. “You wouldn’t expect an after-school program to call your school to check on how you are doing,” say Morales, “but MissionSAFE does, and it helps. I am looking forward to more homework assistance this year, as well as help building a resume, and a place to have fun with friends who I don’t get to see at school.”

“Now more than ever, organizations like ours are critical players in the day-to-day lives and development of Boston’s youth,” says MissionSAFE Executive Director Nikki Flionis. “Along with our tremendous community partners, we play a role in the educational context of our youth, but also in the areas of violence prevention, developmental growth and the collective health of the communities in which they live.”

Now in its tenth year, a hallmark of MissionSAFE has been its focus on seeking out youth who might not traditionally be involved with other programs, and its eagerness to welcome all youth, “There is a deliberate permeability to our design,” says Flionis. “We will do whatever we can to develop a positive relationship with any youth who walks through our doors, and to work to help them see, as we see, their tremendous potential. We take great pride in that.”

Geoff Lamont