VORP Youth Leadership Institute
In November 2013 VORP successfully completed the first Youth Leadership Institute and we are excited to annouce this innovative program will contniue in 2014. This program was developed as a prevention model for middle and high school aged youth (10-19 years old) and an opportunity to develop young leaders and empower them to make change in their communities. It is an interactive leadership curriculum based in restorative justice and inclusiveness philosophies. Youth are recrutied from various schools and community, youth do not need a referral and can sign up anytime however space is limited as youth are enrolled on a first come first serve bases.
The curriculum is designed to develop skills such as critical thinking, communication, public speaking, decision making, personal responsibility and accountability, self-advocacy, civic engagement, team work, self-respect and respect and empathy for others. The program also provide an opportunity for participants to build on literacy skills such as reading and writing.
A large emphasis is placed on exploring mass incarceration which includes the school to jail pipeline, the prison industrial complex and the New Jim Crow. Many of the ideals found in the ground breaking book the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander are a foundation for the curriculum. Youth explore various systems of oppression and marginalization and connect these theories to their everyday lives and learn how they can be agents for social change. VORP Youth Leaders have the opportunity to explore the importance of Restortive Justice in their everyday lives including as a tool to bring into their schools which we encourage and help support.
VORP of Denver defines restorative justice as a process that holds youth accountable for any hurt they have caused through crime or other negative behaviors and choices. This process is not retributive or punitive, this process is empowering, repairs harm and supports youth in future decision making.
Lastly, VORP provides a safe space for transformative healing which we believe is a necessary process of leadership development.
Below are some quote from VORP Leaders:
"VORP is a safe space where I am wanted and respcted by adults and that is important to me because I don't get that in society, youth are looked at in very negative ways"
"This class was one of the best things I have ever done, I feel so empowered to go back to my school and really support my peers and work with the principal and teachers to ensure we are
utilizing RJ and keeping kids in school and out of jail. I have the skills to do that thanks to VORP"
"In this class we talked about real things that are going on in our lives as teens, it's hard out here for us and this class helped me understand the importance of my voice. I don't have to
accept the negative things, I feel this class helped me prepare to be a great leader and not go down the jail path like so many in my hood"
Scheudle: Next program starts in January at Brother Jeff's Cultural Cafe, please check back for details
Incentive: Youth who successfully complete the program receive a $100 cash stipend