By Kenyatta Skyles EYEJ Speaks, an 8-week Facebook Live series, was established out of the organization’s need to bring its youth social justice conversations to civic leaders, educators, youth, families, […]
By Kenyatta Skyles
EYEJ Speaks, an 8-week Facebook Live series, was established out of the organization’s need to bring its youth social justice conversations to civic leaders, educators, youth, families, and nonprofit professionals. Building upon the success of the recently launched Youth Online Discussing Justice (YODJ) program, EYEJ Speaks brings together innovative and intergenerational panelists to explore today’s pertinent social justice issues.
Kicking off the series on June 4th, was an empowering conversation about Toxic Stress, examining social and behavioral determinants, and strategies to reduce the effects of adversity on youth. Moderated by Kenyatta Skyles, VP, Partnerships & Advancement at National Urban League, the panelists included: Habeebah Grimes, CEO of Positive Education Program; Mai Moore, Founder and CEO of EYEJ; and Mallory Wilks, Cleveland Institute of Art student and EYEJ Youth Council Advisor.
The one-hour discussion brought about a number of themes related to the impact of community investment in youth healing and the role of adults in the healing process. From the youth perspective, Mallory stated: “We are starting to become desensitized to certain things…. One of the youth counsel members, in the [EYEJ] video, mentioned he has a real fear of dying by going outside… stuff like that is really stressful seeing everything that everyone has to deal with. We’re all just trying to come together and be there for each other.
Highlights from the conversation included:
For educators and professional practitioners, Ms. Grimes cited the importance of self-care and collective self-care stating: “Our collective neglect for identifying an address to this tragedy is part of the challenge that we face now that we have a global pandemic adding weight to an already fragile situation.” Key to breaking these barriers is the creation of communities of artists, cultural institutions, and others to empower adults, so they, in turn, are better equipped to embrace and uplift youth during their own healing.
In closing, an important takeaway for the youth coming from Ms. Moore was the importance of “teaching them about positive coping skills or ways to reduce stress is so important… breathing, exercising, listening to music…if we can figure out how to find that peace within ourselves, nothing else matters.”
EYEJ Speaks’ discussion on Toxic Stress came at a timely period in the country’s history – high unemployment rates, COVID-19 pandemic, global protests to social injustice, and social distancing. The hope is this and all conversations of the Facebook Live series bring about action to empower youth and the adults who play an important role in their lives. Change doesn’t happen overnight but bringing together the right people to the table can in part, enact some of the changes we want to see.
To view episode one of the EYEJ Speaks discussion on Toxic Stress, visit our Facebook page. Conflict Resolution will be the topic of episode two of the eight-part Facebook Live discussion series taking place on Thursday, June 11, 2020. Please be sure to register to be part of this community conversation.
The views and opinions of the speaker are their own and do not necessarily represent those of EYEJ. Speakers at EYEJ events, or the presence of vendors at EYEJ events, do not constitute an endorsement of the vendor or speaker's views, products or services.