The Southwest Organizing Project prides itself on building relationships within the communities it serves and aims to build power through its community organizing efforts. These efforts extend from seniors and adults to youth as well. The most recent example of how SWOP engages with young people is the Summer Youth Cookout. This event was organized through the efforts of three young people from the community that have been engaging in leadership development opportunities with SWOP .
At this event, youth were able to connect with one another in a safe environment with food and different activities to participate in. Some youth opted to paint or play Jenga, while others engaged in volleyball, badminton, cornhole and soccer. Upon winding down, the young leaders engaged with those who came to enjoy the festivities, attempting to get a grasp of their situations and the appetite they may have for future youth-centered initiatives.
When speaking to Luz Hernandez, one of the youth volunteers working on the event, about her experience, she had this to say. “Compared to the Kickback events we worked on previously, it was so different. This was a much smaller event that was strictly focused on the youth, rather than being family based. The experience from working with SWOP before really helped prepare me and my sister to work out budgets, plan appropriately and talk to vendors.” Luz continued to say that she was “happy to see so many young people attended and that she was thankful to the team she worked with.”
SWOP is planning to have more youth events in the future and is connecting with young people in the hopes that they will lend their voices to planning and implementing these events in the future.