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Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu recently took part in a program that aims to connect young people from diverse communities and backgrounds with elected officials.
On Feb. 10, the club participated in the California Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Youth Voice Project, featuring a “visit” with state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas. Ashlen Kerns, special events and marketing associate for the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, said the students, including six from Malibu, “were given the opportunity to ask questions and share experiences related to racial justice and equity, life during the pandemic, and general issues related to today's youth.”
In addition to identifying issues within their communities, the students were asked to find potential solutions “as a way to influence the senator to evoke change.” They talked about the school to prison pipeline, access to education for minority and low-income students, and the overall racial equity challenges specific to the L.A. community “and how we invest in and educate minority students.”
Of the event, Jaz, a Malibu High School junior, said, ”The conversation with Sen. Stern made me feel empowered and inspired me to take more action in my community, especially when I see injustice.”
Added Nicole, another MHS junior, "I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to discuss community issues with Sen. Stern. The conversation was very engaging. I’m so glad that we were able to discuss and have an authority figure listen to our thoughts and beliefs.”
Facilitator for the event was Sarah Bedy, director of the California Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.
Among BGCM’s goals is helping students, families and others “talk about diversity in order to support tolerance and empathy in our community.”
Kerns said the professional staff “continue to encourage equity and inclusion by facilitating ongoing activities … with our members highlighting Black History Month while stimulating observance, self-awareness, education, and more.”