How do our grantees advance racial equity and or youth engagement in their programs?
Toward the end of 2018, the Youthprise Research and Evaluation Team conducted grantee interviews to investigate that question. We were purposeful about making the interview process more interactive and comfortable for our grantees, and intentional about selecting grantees that we had not typically highlighted. The Research and Evaluation Team designed an interview template that followed our theory of change, and the themes throughout the interviews were racial equity and youth engagement.
One goal of the interviews was to strengthen our relationships with our grantees and to elevate and share their stories of impact. In 2019, the Team compiled the data and wrote the stories, which will now be highlighted on our website and social media.
Dream of Wild Health
We interviewed Misco, a 16-year old youth program participant at DWH. Misco attends the American Indian School and she is Ojibwe and Dakota. She started as a Garden warrior and then advanced into a youth leader. She explains, “The programs with DWH are the first I have participated in outside of school. It has been powerful to learn and connect with my peers and community about cultural traditions of health, food, and farming outside of school and the Twin Cities.”
Dream of Wild Health hosts the following youth programs:
The DWH youth programs are run by a group of dedicated community volunteers on the East Side of St. Paul and is resourced by DWH. The garden is an important link to creating healthy and traditional food access within the urban Indigenous community. These youth programs are beneficial to young people like Misco because it teaches them how to be outspoken, responsible, and hold themselves accountable.
“After my time at Dream of Wild Health, I have realized how much I wish we could live the way our ancestors did years ago, more connected to the land.”
-Misco, Dream of Wild Health participant
INVESTING IN YOUTH AT DREAM OF WILD HEALTH
Dream of Wild Health is investing in youth by allowing them to have their own voice and vision, which is why Misco’s experience as a youth participant at DWH gave her some key insights into what it takes to be a youth leader. While at DWH, Misco has been able to develop her definition of equity.
Misco states that, “My definition of racial equity is supporting Native organizations that are Native-led. Don’t just lift people up, but acknowledge the historical trauma and what has been taken from Native folks and what needs to be reclaimed.”
Additionally, having the right resources to advance racial equity is important. Youth like Misco believe having the means to plan “bigger trips and overnights to go somewhere together” are resources that are needed. This will connect young people with each other and give them the space to develop alongside each other. Furthermore, “Young people are already brilliant – just provide them the positive space to grow together.”
Youth leadership and youth voice is also encouraged at Dream of Wild Health. According to Misco, youth leadership is when, “young people who are leaders in the community, have good work ethic and show up every day. Young people who learn cooking and farming skills at DWH can bring those skills back to their communities to share. DWH has taught Misco, “Leaders don’t look or act one way. Leaders aren’t selfish. Leaders speak and act on behalf of a group. Good leaders represent the group well.”
When asked what Misco hopes to change in this world she said, “After my time at Dream of Wild Health, I have realized how much I wish we could live the way our ancestors did years ago, more connected to the land.” The youth program at DWH is helping her to connect to her history and consider what path she wants to take in her future.