Helping to plan the Youth Action Institute (YAI) was part of my internship at the HIV/AIDS Resource Center. Last week was a complete success in training another batch of youth AIDS activists and organizers! Running from June 22 – June 27, over 20 youth from across the country and the globe attended the 2009 YAI. The highlight of the week was the Friday demonstration against budget cuts in the city of San Francisco and the state of California. Throughout the week, participants had the opportunity to attend workshops that focused on specific skills needed to carry out an action, and many of the skills were tied to planning the demonstration.
We met with Angela Green, the director of the Iris Center in San Francisco, on Monday afternoon. She described the work of the Iris Center and the difficulties they will have providing services if more budget cuts go through. After an energetic brainstorming session, the entire group decided we’d do a demonstration at the end of the week as the first step in many throughout the summer to protest the budget cuts. We ended up changing our training schedule to fit around what we needed to do to plan the demonstration. I still got to lead my session about social media and how it can be used to organize groups for actions, events, and longer-term projects. We also incorporated the policy advocacy workshop session about powermapping from my previous post about that. The youth really liked seeing the visual representation about how to target specific people to get specific changes in policies.
The group was a little excited and a little scared about what was going to happen on Friday at the demonstration. Some had never taken part in any such action and some were worried that we’d be an epic fail. Fortunately, the demonstration was very successful. Angela was there with us on Friday, and many people in the plaza where we demonstrated asked for more information and wanted to get involved. Overall, it was a great week!