Young leaders presented their action plans for social change at the Community Leadership Institute at Cate School last week in Carpinteria and each group had a specific cause to focus their efforts. 

The young leaders came from different high schools and community groups in Santa Barbara and Ventura County.

“Communities advances justice by building leadership, fostering change, and dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression,” said Emma Fey, co-director of the leadership event and North Country board member for Just Communities. 

All the youth leaders spoke passionately about the need for change and how they were going to take action together.

The speakers for CAUSE addressed the gap in education funding and the lack of resources for some public schools. Their overall goal is to create a student activist network to give students a voice in their community and schools.

Dos Pueblos High School Change Agent Group’s speakers were Sam Vargas, Syd Abad, Tania Ramirez, and Grecia Alvarez. Their mission is to raise awareness mental health, sexual assault, and sex education issues at their school. They want the school to implement LGBTQ+ inclusivity, sensitivity training, ethnic studies in their history curriculum, and more.

Speakers from the Change Agent Group 2017 talked about their personal experiences with teacher and counselors, and the need for more staff training. One student shared how her counselor said a class was not available for her, but when her white friend asked to take the class, it was available for her. 

Another student talked about racial profiling on campus, saying that students of colors are always being stopped for going off campus even if they have permission while white students are never stopped even if they don’t have permission.

A group from Albergue para Jovenes/Housing for Youth talked about addressing the concern of runaway youth in Santa Maria. Their goal is to address runaways’ needs for housing by creating a safe and supportive shelter, and they even have a site in mind, but would need donations and food to make it a reality. 

Santa Barbara High School students want to dedicate portions of the newspaper, The Forge, and the school bulletin to individuals who have been impacted by oppression, which they said could create a sense of welcomeness. 

A presentation on education equity focused on the need for bilingual teachers and tutors to create equal opportunities for Latino students. 

Organizations and high school groups that presented at the Community Leadership Institute event included CAUSE, Albergue para Jovenes/ Housing for Youth, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, Central Coast Future Leaders, Dunn School, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Ojai, Ventura, One Step A La Vez Center in Fillmore, and Westminster Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks. 

Noozhawk intern Julia Lee can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.