WE DON’T NEED A YOUTH JAIL
2018 Freedom School Day of Social Action
In the summer of 2018, 60 Rainier Beach High School scholars protested the unlawful building of Seattle’s Youth Detention Center. Continuing the work of many No New Youth Jail organizers, our Freedom School scholars posed the question “What would you do with $210 million?” Challenging the city to invest IN our youth rather than institutions that detain them. The #NNYJ Anthem song and video was written, produced, and directed by Rainier Beach scholars with the help of Michael Grant & Rell Be Free.
I have always thought what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership in others” (Ella J. Baker).
During the school year WA-BLOC programming builds upon summer Freedom Schools and bridges the critical transition into the school year, and fosters academic and community transformation through four program areas:
Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Summer Program
The CDF Freedom Schools program is a six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program designed to serve children and youth in grades K–12 offered at no-cost.
The CDF Freedom Schools program enhances children’s motivation to read and makes them feel good about learning. At the same time, the program connects families to the right resources in their communities. Freedom School students engage in a research-based, multicultural Integrated Reading Curriculum that supports them and their families through five essential components:
- High quality academic enrichment
- Parent and family development
- Civic engagement and social action
- Intergenerational servant leadership development
- Nutrition, health and mental health
Through the CDF Freedom Schools model, we empower youth to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country and world with hope, education and action.
WA-BLOC collaborates regularly with our local community to cultivate and facilitate school/community wide ‘social justice events.’
These events, like our annual “B.L.O.C. Party” collaborate with 40-50 community organizations, leaders, activists, and student leaders to host an array of interactive workshops to uplift and affirm identities of black and brown youth and mobilize our community in work of justice.
Other examples of social justice leadership programming include apprentice-style participation in the Black Student Union, transportation justice townhalls, school board presentations, and coalition-building circle practice meetings with Community members and City and Seattle Public School officials, exemplified by recent efforts to address issues of food insecurity in our school and wider southend community.
WA-BLOC’s Restorative Justice team offers an alternative to punitive, exclusionary discipline practices. We are responsible for delivering restorative practices to improve outcomes for youth, staff and families. The Restorative Justice team provides restorative circle, mediation, mentoring and de-escalation support to both groups and individual students as needed. The Restorative Justice team also helps coordinate and facilitate school-wide training for staff and students. Our work is the beginning of creating and implementing sustainable Restorative Justice systems at Rainier Beach High School and Emerson Elementary School.
Homework Center is a daily, after-school academic support program for 9th-12th grade students attending Rainier Beach High School. A daily, drop-in after school program for Rainier Beach High School students to receive academic, social emotional, and college career support.
In response to schools closing as a result of COVID-19, WA-BLOC began its Feed the Beach effort on Friday, March 13th to bring food justice to students and families in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. Through individual contributions, we were able to raise $30k to sustain this effort through mid-June. WA-BLOC was able to reinvest all $30k into the black and brown restaurants, caterers and chefs in South East Seattle that prepared the meals for the bi-weekly Feed the Beach event which was hosted at the Rainier Beach Community Center Plaza. Since March 13th, over 4,000 hot meals were distributed to students and families in the Rainier Beach community as a result of our rapid-response programming.