Youth Leadership Programs
Girls Going Green
Are there toxins in personal and beauty products? What is a natural beauty product, and can you make one? In this gender-specific program, teen and young adult women focus on personal and environmental health issues, while also learning what it means to be a leader and work-ready. Participants learn about toxins often found in commercial personal and beauty care products, and create their own products using commonly available and naturally safe alternatives.
With support from UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute, young women in the program have produced educational pamphlets, recipe cards, and all-natural lip balm, which they distribute at community events and workshops. A big part of this experience is educating their peers about what they've learned.
In 2016, the young women in our program were recognized by the Massachusetts State Senate for their significant contributions to encouraging youth and the larger community to reduce exposure to toxins.
At gulf of Maine Institute (GOMI)
Girls Going Green has actively participated in the Gulf of Maine Institute's program on climate change, an issue which has a particularly adverse effect on women and low-income populations. The program draws young people from communities in New England, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. At GOMI, our Lowell team has focused on the awareness of excessive use of pesticides that threaten pollinator plants and insects, as well as our food supply. The team has also worked closely with Middlesex Community College on eradication of invasive species of plants, has visited Nova Scotia to exchange ideas and learn about issues and culture there, and has hosted the Canadian teams here in Massachusetts.
Green TEam Recycling INitiative
For more than 15 years now, hundreds of Lowell youth have helped to recycle nearly 750,000 beverage containers as part of the Green Team Recycling Initiative - 240,000 at the Lowell Folk Festival alone! Our recycling initiative helps young people actively divert containers into the recycling stream instead of landfills and incinerators, in partnership with the City of Lowell, community organizations, businesses, individuals, and events. Efforts at the Lowell Folk Festival are highlighted by an EPA report, which mentions YWCA volunteers and calls the Festival's 95% "waste diversion" a national model.
recycle my pizza box campaign, and more
Green Team youth have initiated other city-wide recycling efforts, in addition to beverage containers:
- Milk and Juice Carton recycling campaign that engages other summer camp sites and Lowell public schools
- Recycle My Pizza Box campaign in concert with local pizza shops
- New campaign to recycle personal care and dental hygiene product packaging
PEER LEADERS Promoting Safe Driving
Leadership training and community outreach are the hallmarks of this program for high-school-aged youth. Focused on preventing impaired driving while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, these young people reach out and present engaging workshops to other youth groups in the greater Lowell area. During the workshops, they explore:
- the consequences of impaired driving
- refusal strategies to avoid driving when impaired
- refusal strategies to avoid being a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who is under the influence
These peer leaders also conduct social media activities to raise awareness, work with the Lowell Police Department to build positive relationships around this issues, and meet with other youth in a statewide network to share ideas and best practices.
Lively conversations and good ideas come from teens active in Youth Reaching Out
Youth reaching out
YWCA youth participate in this citywide collaboration led by Lowell Community Health Center Teen BLOCK, which brings youth and youth leaders together to discuss and develop active strategies to prevent violence in our community. Initiatives include "Get Hooked" (engages teens in after-school youth programs/activities), "We've Got the Power" (event that provided a positive youth expression after a tragic shooting in 2010), and "Peace in the Park" (community event near a neighborhood plagued with violence that positively engages youth). In 2016, Youth Reaching Out launched a monthly youth/police dialogue to help improve the relationship between police and youth; to date, eight police officers have participated in the dialogues.