Youth Community Development Teams
Ritmo en Acción (REA) was started by a Hyde Square Task Force youth leader after she saw a lack of culturally relevant dance programming in the community. REA engages close to 40 teens in Afro-Latin dance. Low-income, disengaged Boston teens who struggle in school, nearly all of whom are Latino/a or Black, learn contemporary and classic Latin dance, teach dance to hundreds of youth and adults in the community, and advocate for dance classes in public schools. Teens become more physically active and more artistically expressive. At the same time, they build self-confidence and perseverance, connect with their cultures, and develop leadership skills. Each year, REA teens perform and teach thousands of children, teens, and adults through their public performances and educational activities in the community. Additionally, they engage people from all backgrounds and act as ambassadors to promote the rich Latino culture. REA is a model for engaging urban teens through culturally-relevant art forms. In addition, many REA alumni start Latin dance groups on their college campus and in their community.
¡Acción! Community Theater (ACT!) troupe teaches collaboration, time management, communication, and encourages creativity and problem solving—skills essential to life beyond the stage. ACT! youth train with a Theater Resident Artist to cultivate skills as artists and further use those skills to address some of the issues that are important to the community. Using public performances and theater-based activities, ACT! teens work to bring the community together to create a vision for a safe and vibrant community. They bring together hundreds of children, teens, and adults through their performances and community actions.
Musicians in Community (MIC) grew out of our community’s rich musical traditions and need for increased music education. MIC youth build confidence and personal-management skills as they learn to play, perform, and teach all forms of music—with a special focus on Afro-Latin percussion. After intensive training in order to improve their artistic mastery, MIC teens bring performances and free educational workshops to hundreds of children, teens, and adults. HSTF believes that music is essential to a vibrant community. MIC music ensembles bring high-quality Afro-Latin music performances to all corners of the city and introduce thousands of people to the rich culture and traditions of the Latino community.
The Rookie Runners Initiative engages all HSTF youth leaders in physical activity using running as a catalyst for building personal management and leadership skills. To build healthier, stronger communities through exercise, HSTF youth train to run long distances—each year, teens collectively run more than 3,400 miles. They also engage hundreds of community residents by organizing fun physical activities that encourage a healthier lifestyle. They work with local partners and organize a community-wide 5K Run/Walk each spring that draws more than 300 participants. Running for exercise or competition is dominated by affluent, educated Americans—at Hyde Square Task Force, the organization strives to change the face of running in Boston by inviting those who normally may not choose it as a form of exercise to join us in becoming healthier.
Youth Community Organizers
HSTF’s community organizing program invites Boston youth to advocate for themselves, their schools, and their communities. Youth develop leadership and organizing skills, engage in social justice through organizing campaigns that achieve concrete victories, and improve conditions or make change. They participate in several months of intensive training and investigate critical social/political issues while developing critical thinking, communication, and organizing skills.
Youth and adults work in tandem to identify a problem that affects teens’ lives. They research the issue locally and nationally, develop a non-biased survey with professionals, and administer the survey to teens to gauge the severity of the problem and interest in the issue.
Youth develop crisp, clear, understandable, and attainable campaign goals and a strategy map with campaign tactics, actions, and timetable. They learn how to create power analyses and work on high quality, multimedia presentation materials. They present the plan to potential allies and seek written support and get the message out so there is certainty of a large turn-out for actions.
Youth participate in press conferences and legislative hearings and mobilize as many supporters as possible (usually between 100 and 500). They learn to utilize media including radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, blogs, and more. Further, they engage in quiet lobbying with powerbrokers. When appropriate, they negotiate or make changes to the campaign. Youth make sure that laws and policies are changed and guide the implementation process of promised changes. After the campaign, they monitor the changes to ensure that individuals and bureaucracies are held accountable. Click here to learn more about our advocacy and action campaigns.