Building Up Young People and Giving Space to Thrive as an Activist
The Queens Defenders BLANK Project allows for local youth to learn about the law, how to organize, and bring awareness to current events and social issues. It is a place for those who want to make change to connect and learn how to make their communities a better place. Each month the group takes on different topics or causes to raise awareness and find ways they can help in their community.
The BLANK project currently consists of 23 members from the ages 16-23 from across Queens. These active members are dedicated to making meaningful change in their community, and three members have joined their local NYC Community Board. Over the past few months, they’ve organized large town halls on topics such as human rights, women empowerment, mental health, black history month, foster care, and police relations. These town halls have included local State Senators and other elected representatives, police, and many other community leaders, giving the BLANK Project youth opportunities to directly engage with their community.
“The BLANK Project is a platform that allows youth to take control and own their power for the good of their community. Be it through advocacy, discussion and planning, the youth are the drivers of BLANK – Building Leaders in A New Kulture. The teens participating determine not only what matters, but what needs to do done for the community, as a community.” Director of Youth Programs Brandon Jefferies states of the project, “The BLANK Project has been a constant inspiration of change, watching our youth take the lead and come into their own. Virtual Townhall discussions, peaceful protests, awareness events are just a few of the formats they consider. From Alexandra Brathwaite, Social Rights Coordinator, spearheading this platform to Jaden Gabb, a Queens Defender H.W. Helper, giving powerful insight. I have no doubt we are supporting future leaders in the making. To all the youth giving their time to the BLANK Project, thank you in advance.”
Alexandra Brathwaite, Social Justice Coordinator at Queens Defenders, stated, “We launched this program to provide our young people with a targeted and focused opportunity to address social justice in their communities. The program provides a platform where participants can express their concerns and frustrations with the systems they interact with every day, and where they can feel liberated and advocate for their communities.”
The month of April has many awareness topics, from workshops on Fair Housing, Reentry & Restorative Justice, Autism, and Sexual Health & Wellness conducted in partnership with Planned Parenthood, culminating in a large town hall focused on the Stop Asian Hate movement at the end of the month. If you would like to join The BLANK Project, e-mail email@example.com to receive the application. The BLANK Project enrollment is open all year. If you’re interested in social justice, activism, and advocacy, you are encouraged to apply.
To preview The BLANK Project’s town halls, visit the Queens Defenders YouTube Page.