Vital Sign: Bay Area Trip Inspires 10 Area Youth

posted Nov 1, 2012, 10:47 AM by BHC Staff   [ updated Nov 1, 2012, 10:47 AM by Julio Zaldivar ]
The California Endowment, Rural Human Services, and Del Norte County Unified School District planted a seed last week by exposing 10 Crescent City youth to a range of digital media opportunities designed to give youth an outlet for their passions and hope for the future.

“It was nothing like I expected,” Castle Rock Charter School senior Rainbow Buck said of the Oct. 23-24 Youth Media Training in Oakland.  “If you were a teenager, you would find something you would be passionate about if you went to one of these places.”

“The trip inspired me,” said Makenzy Williams, another Castle Rock senior. “The whole atmosphere was optimistic. There were so many things teens are able to do that teens here couldn’t even imagine - all sorts of technology and tools to work with.”

The group visited Youth Uprising, a 25,000 square-foot center in the heart of East Oakland that served 1,900 youth in 2011 and attracted 1.6 million hits on its You Tube channel last year, and the RYSE Center, a 6,600 square-foot gathering spot in Richmond that opened in 2008 as a community response to the killing of four high school students in 2000.

They worked with youth and professional media producers, including those from Youth Radio and New American Media. The former is a 20-year-old organization that teaches young people how to tell a story, produce music, develop an app or express themselves. The latter is the country’s first and largest national collaboration of 57 million ethnic news organizations and individuals.

The Del Norte group shared life experiences with youth organizers, toured Oakland, created their own blog and watched the four-star documentary, Brooklyn Castle. The film details the challenges handled daily by the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school with more national championships than any other.

Williams and Buck also admired the roles teens played in all of the programs.

“It was youth creating opportunities for themselves,” Williams said. “Youth in Crescent City are so reliant on adults in our lives for education, housing, surviving. Being able to see that we are able to do great things for ourselves inspires us to start making change,”

Guillermo Espinoza, Alex Fallman, Sidney Perry, Crystal Powell, Maria Raya, Willow Rodgers, Joerinda Severa, and Daniel Simpson and four adult supervisors also made the trip as part of The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative. Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands is one of 14 communities across the state where a collaborative of local residents and leaders is spreading the message: Health happens in schools, homes and neighborhoods.

To see the youth blog about the trip, go to: or