Youth Empowerment Network

Townsend Street Fair was a Huge Success!

On Saturday, August 20, 2016 we hosted our largest community event of the year, The Townsend Street Fair. The theme for this year’s fair was Neighborhoods of Action and Hope. Our goal was to increase awareness and access to health related services to strengthen the local community, celebrate its positive attributes, and bring different resources from the community to Central Santa Ana.

Over 50 organizations and businesses attended, all of which brought fun activities for youth and children. Participating organizations included: PBS SoCal, Santa Ana College, Orange County Health Care Agency, Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers and Community Health Initiative of Orange County, which offered free information and guidance on free and low-cost community services and educational and college opportunities.

Here are some photos from our event: 

Questions on getting involved for next year's Townsend Street Fair? Contact Frank Bejarano, Frank.Bejarano@kidworksoc.org for more information.  

A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs: Youth Empowerment Network

Editor’s note:  We are pleased to introduce our latest blog series, “A Closer Look: KidWorks’ Programs.”  We offer a full range of programs for children, youth and adults.  In this series, we focus on several of aspects, giving you a peek into what makes these programs tick—and sharing a few “little known secrets”!

We’ve all heard the adage, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.”  At KidWorks, we have our own take:  “If you want to make positive change in the community, ask our youth!”

For several years now, the teens involved in our program have put their creative energies to work making the neighborhoods of Central Santa Ana safer, more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing.

They are part of our Youth Empowerment Network, YEN for short.  Today, YEN has 25 members, with participants ranging from sixth grade to early college.

“This is really a youth-initiated and youth-led program,” says Frank Bejarano, our Director of Youth and Family Engagement.  “They develop, design and address issues that impact themselves, their families and their neighborhoods.”

Funded by a 10-year grant fro the California Endowment, KidWorks’ YEN program is focused on four key areas where the youth continue to make an impact:

  • Restorative Justice:  Based on the concept of rehabilitation rather than only punishment, YEN has worked hand-in-hand with the Santa Ana Unified School district to find alternative ways to create restoration and healing.
     
  • Urban Agriculture:  YEN has helped create a community garden and compost operation at our Dan Donahue Center.  The youth are involving the entire community—children, youth, adults and seniors.  Their harvest so far has included kale, tomatoes, chilies and more.
     
  • Health & Nutrition:  With obesity continuing to be a life threatening problem in Santa Ana and nationwide, our youth are behind efforts to promote healthy choices.  One recent success is convincing the Santa Ana School District to again offer fresh salad bars in school cafeterias.  They have also mapped the location of fruit trees in the surrounding neighborhood, hoping to eventually establish a local farmers’ market and food exchange.
     
  • Active Transportation:  Active transportation lives right alongside the health and nutrition focus.  Here, the students have successfully advocated for bike lanes, skateboard parks and other ways to keep arms and legs moving.

“In addition to taking steps to proactively improve their neighborhood, our YEN members are learning leadership and project management skills that will last a lifetime,” Frank says.  “They take ownership of opportunities to make neighborhoods better—and then they get it done!”


By Glenn Leibowitz, Volunteer Content Writer 

Noche De Las Estrellas

On Friday, June 10th, we celebrated our annual Noche De Las Estrellas (Night of the Stars). Noche De Las Estrellas is an evening to celebrate our graduating seniors and this year was one for the books! 

We are so proud to be sending our students into the world better equipped for college, the workforce, relationships, volunteerism, and community building! But our job doesn't end here, we are committed to doing life with these rock stars for the long haul. 

Help us congratulate the KidWorks Class of 2016!

Our Youth Have a ‘Bucket List’ to Help the Environment

For four years, we, the Youth Empowerment Network Compost program, have recycled and processed more than 60,000 pounds of organic waste into nutrient-rich compost.  Our goal is not only to reduce waste in landfills but also to create our own soil for use in our garden and to share with the community. 

Our program creates opportunities for other youth to get involved with their community and learn about agriculture. 

We collect buckets of waste from families in our neighborhood and process it in our garden. However, the bucket lids are not very pleasing to families because they are difficult to open.

The money raised will be used to replace the lids to more manageable ones. The funds would be appreciated any time between April 12 and May 7th. Replacing the bucket lids is important because the families contribute significantly to our program, and this would be a way of showing our gratitude. 

On May 7th, we will be honoring the families' participation in our program by hosting a dinner at our community center. We would love to surprise them!

We,the youth, would be extremely grateful for any funds, even the smallest amount would be appreciated and be of help to us. 

Interested in helping?

Thank you,

Youth Empowerment Network's Compost Program