Our social issue for the YPI project was helping children in poverty. After researching, my group discovered that there has been a significant increase of children living in poverty in NYC. The Association to Benefit Children (ABC) is a program mainly located on the upper east side, which provides help for families in poverty. ABC has a variety of programs from teaching languages to providing housing for families with Aids. ABC also has many preschools that incorporate games and music into their lessons to make it fun for the children. Most of the workers are volunteers including people who attended their schools as children. I was happy to be able to learn about ABC.
The hardest part of the project for me was the presentation. Because we visited ABC, its hard for the judges and our peers to really understand what the experience felt like. It was also hard to choose what to say about each slide to explain the organization clearly. We also struggled with choosing what information we wanted to share the most in the limited time of ten minutes. My favorite part of the project was our site visit. I loved learning about ABC, but it was even better to physically see how much help there is for the children if they need it. One way that I can stay engaged with ABC is by volunteering at their Open door program on Saturdays. Every Saturday, anyone is allowed into their building to play games, learn languages, and receive food if in need. I really enjoyed this project because it really opened my eyes in a good way and made me realize how much help is available for anyone in need.
The social issue I researched was child abuse, and the non-profit my group chose was the Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center. My attitude towards the social issue changed incredibly over the course of completing my project. I learned how strongly child abuse can be responsible for many other issues, such as drug abuse, and a cycle of abuse from child to child. I also realized the overwhelming amount of people who suffer from child abuse, a number I thought was far less than it actually is. By the time our YPI project was completed, I had also been strongly affected by a personal story told to me by a volunteer of the Jane Barker Advocacy Center, which detailed the life of one particular victim who was helped by Jane Barker.
I found the most rewarding aspect of the project was the knowledge that the Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center is one of the hardest working centers to end child abuse, and has a unique approach to dealing with children that works more effectively than other methods. I was also rewarded by knowing that the work completed by our group working with this non-profit was work that went to helping children who have been psychically or sexually abused, and that our work made an impact on people who can also try to help those who have been abused.
My group over all wanted to empower young people to stand up for themselves and speak for themselves. That was how we choose human sex trafficking. We really wanted to help people who thought they were nothing and not important to feel loved and cared about. That is why we chose GEMS. GEMS stands for Girls Education & Mentoring Services and it helps girls from the ages of 12-24 who have been in the sex trafficking industry and need help. Their founder and executive director Rachel Lloyd was in the sex trafficking industry in England where she grew up, and she came to the USA to help girls that were like her. GEMS are a small business but making a lot of progress and growing very quickly.
When I started this project, I thought sex trafficking was a very small thing and I thought that it was not that important. As my group and I progressed, I think we all learned how big of an issue it is not only in the United States, but in the world. I also did not know that there were girls being trafficked at ages as young as six or seven. Researching this issue and learning about it in more detail really changed my view on sex trafficking. I think my groups site visit was very challenging because GEMS do such a good job of keeping their girls protected and safe so we did not get to meet any of the girls and they did not let us go in their offices or main building. Even though that was difficult, it really shows how much these people want to protect these girls in need. When we visited the GEMS offices, we met two women who were very connected with some of the girls and really wanted to help the people that they worked with. Immediately I felt like I wanted to help with this issue just as they were. My group did a lot of research and we really put in a lot of work because we felt that more people in the world should know about this issue and more people should start to help to fight against sex trafficking. When my group won the five thousand dollars, it was very rewarding for me because I felt like I had really helped some of the young girls who were in such difficult positions in their lives.