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Birds United for Change at Youth Advocacy Day

Kesha at Youth Advocacy Day 2016 [Photo: Jerry Davis] Kesha at Youth Advocacy Day 2016 [Photo: Jerry Davis]

When you open a box of crayons, there will be some that are dull, broken, wrappers torn, and dirty mixed in amongst those that happen to still look sharp, like they haven’t been touched at all. When you look at it like this, it’s easy to see the “problem.” You might believe that it would be easier to purchase a new box as a “solution,” instead of recognizing the endless stories of art, joy, healing and impact these crayons have told and the possibilities they still hold.

Just like these crayons, some youth who have experienced homelessness or foster care may seem like they’ve traveled a long journey and are rough around the edges. They may act out when they think they don’t have a voice or because they don’t know how to tell their story, and many youth may not even know what help looks like or where to find it. Nonetheless, they hold a bountiful future that shouldn’t be wrecked by fear of the unknown, of judgment, and a lack of empathy from the outside world. Our journey is what gives us power. And at Youth Advocacy Day, we get to use this power and use our voice to advocate for a better future for ourselves and for our peers.

At YAD, hundreds of youth and adults come together to celebrate and rightfully ask for their voices to be heard in unison. We say, “don’t write our stories for us.” We show our passion, our strife, our pain, and how strong we are together. You can never have too many unique stories because they are all part of a much larger narrative that is paving the way for others who will come after. When you come to Youth Advocacy Day, you can’t help but be fired up by the love and passion.

I was invited to YAD last year without being 100% clear what is was all about. I knew it had to do with empowering youth and I was down to go because my heart holds a lot of love and understanding for others. When I attended YAD, I had the most amazing time. I learned a lot, met new people, made lasting memories, and vowed to go back to Seattle and get involved in the youth voice movement. Ever since that day, I have been actively involved with The Mockingbird Society’s Youth Advocates Ending Homelessness (YAEH) Chapter and loving every moment I spend with my advocacy family. Together, we strive to make our community bigger and raise our voices in song, every member with a different pitch, tone, emotion, rhythm, and harmony.

We advocate because we need organization in our community. We advocate because we are needed. We advocate because we are powerful on our own, but our wings are stronger together. We advocate because we were pushed from the nest, never had a nest to call our own, or like myself, left a nest that was already broken. We advocate because we are able. We advocate because it’s our right! I hope you will join us this year at Youth Advocacy Day on February 10th, 2017 in Olympia, WA. For more information about YAD, please visit Mockingbird’s website at www.mockingbirdsociety.org.