A Year in Review: I.S. 166 Middle School Youth Council

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The Youth Council of I.S. 166 has experienced an enormous amount of obstacles this year.  Due to budget cuts our program was cut down from 5 to 3 days per week.  As a result Youth Council members had to make the sacrifice of missing out on their chosen clubs for most of the day in order to participate in Youth Council activities and workshops.  In this instance, being youth developer proved somewhat difficult because I wanted my students to take part in everything we as a program, had to offer.  In the end I was able to compromise. Youth Council members were able to take part in Youth Council for only the first half of after-school programming then had the choice to stay or go to their club for the rest of the day.  To my happiness, members chose to stay through the entire day.

Elections & choosing issues to advocate for went smoothly.  However, after a month or two, our president stopped attending after school and our president from the prior year was re-elected.  After this we were able to pick up where we left off and focus our attention on preparing for the conference.  We went to Wagon Road to grow together more as a youth council and work on our facilitation skills.

In December, while making the final preparations for our winter showcase, we learned our Community School Director Jobis Ozoria was tragically killed in a car accident.  We cancelled the show and informed the kids on what happened.  This, to say the least, had a tremendous affect on everyone within I.S. 166 and The Children's Aid Society.  We cried together, we grieved together. During this period it was important for us to remember all the good that Jobis represented and I made this my priority with the kids.

When discussing ways that we can honor Jobis we decided that naming the street in which the school is located after him would be most fitting.  We received tons of support, not only from the school and The Children’s Aid Society but also from Mr. Ozoria’s family and the community.  As of now, we received over 700 signatures and have spoken in front of the community board advocating for Grant Avenue between 163rd and 164th to be renamed to Jobis Ozoria Place.  Currently it is in the process of becoming law which is a very good sign that we can achieve this wonderful feat.

Keeping the ball rolling, we thought of ways to expand Youth Council and its message of advocacy and youth involvement.  As a result we are currently working on our very own television program through Bronx Net.  This would be a platform for Youth Council to discuss and advocate for issues on a more public level and show young people that their voices can be heard.

The Youth Council of 166 has dealt with a lot this year, but through it all has stuck together and bonded as a true family. I am proud of these young men and women and truly thankful to be a part of their lives.  They never cease to amaze me and are a prime example of the great things that can happen when positive young people get together to make a change.  They have not only been an inspiration to other students but to myself as well.  When I see the work they have accomplished and continue to work on, I am reminded that nothing is impossible if you truly work hard for it and have the support of others around you.

Joshua Poyer
Youth Council Developer
I. S. 166
Bronx, New York