YEP We Can
By Jacy Duan
A year ago, our organization made our very first post on Arcadia’s Best titled “Our Paradise” detailing the mission of the Arcadia Civic Youth Council—eradicating widespread apathy and promoting civic engagement in our youth. We wanted to create an ideal of giving back to our community so that volunteering and getting involved meant far more than just earning hours, but satisfying a sense of civic responsibility.
A year later, we maintain that same mission, but we have extended it to involve a younger audience than just high school students. We created the idea of YEP (Youth Engagement Program) a few months ago, a program for youth from ages 8-11 designed to promote historical education and public speaking skills at the Arcadia Public Library. We understood that the ability to debate and discuss as active citizens began with simply being comfortable speaking in front of others and confident in voicing our opinions. Furthermore, a sense of civic virtue is developed from truly understanding and getting to know our own community—its roots, its people, its history.
For the past few weeks, we have interacted with dozens of kids playing various confidence-developing games that encouraged kids to stand up and present, not letting their fear and embarrassment get in the way. We have also done activities that teach Arcadian history like performing skits with characters such as Lucky Baldwin and Mary Willson Robillard, the first schoolteacher in Arcadia. With help from the Arcadia Historical Society, we have access to many historical photos and artifacts that we share with the kids.
For the next three weeks, the YEP program will continue meeting in the Imagination Theatre of the Arcadia Public Library on Wednesdays from 3-4 pm. Please come join us with your kids to help them learn more about our city’s history as well as understand their own power and voice.
Feelings of civic responsibility can start young and we hope to foster them with YEP.