Hyde Square Task Force was founded by neighbors, families, and youth to stem the tide of rampant drug use and violence and to create a safe and vibrant neighborhood. Residents and youth identified problems, created alliances and partnerships, crafted solutions, and advocated and organized. Our track record of success over twenty years highlights why identifying and supporting emerging local leaders is important.
Youth Community Development Teams – From the beginning, residents and neighbors understood that youth needed to be at the center of community transformation. They needed to change from disinterested spectators to active agents of change, from perpetrators or victims of crime to community leaders. Hyde Square Task Force teens’ initial efforts focused on providing youth and families with access to resources. And as the organization evolved, it became clear that youth themselves could provide many of these resources. At HSTF, teens are trained to provide needed services in the community. Whether they are performing theater to promote literacy for children, introducing pre-schoolers to Afro-Latin rhythms, teaching peers and young children to dance, organizing a 5K neighborhood run, or teaching their peers about sexual health, our teens are valuable to their own lives and to the community.
School and Cultural Partnerships – Hyde Square Task Force’s first funded program was housed at the JFK Elementary School and since then, partnerships with local schools has been a priority. During school hours, after school, and in summer months, HSTF’s programs thrive at elementary and high schools across the city. While partnerships are often challenging, HSTF is flexible and focused which benefits dozens of schools. HSTF youth teach Afro-Latin Dance and music, make presentations in high school civics classes, promote literacy, lead college-prep workshops, and develop sexual-health education curriculum.
Aware of Boston’s cultural richness, HSTF has also created dynamic partnerships with Berklee School of Music and Hacha y Machete Dance Company, and we always seek more partnerships.
Advocacy and Action– In addition to providing direct services to the community, youth are provided with the tools to examine social, economic, and political forces at work in the community. With adult support and guidance, teens engage in mobilizations and organizing campaigns to address serious problems. We believe in what educator John Dewey said: “Optimal learning and human development occurs when students are confronted with substantial problems to solve.”
Teens develop personal philosophies—their basic beliefs, values, attitudes, and assumptions—and use them to shape a view of themselves and the world. As their awareness grows, youth experience authentic empowerment—the capacity to change their environment. Teens learn that social change is possible. They simultaneously learn that they can transform themselves—they can take control of their lives and define themselves and their role in society. At HSTF, we know that each youth’s individual transformation is inextricably linked to the transformation of the larger community.