Jennifer Hatchett is the Executive Director of YouthServe, a group that empowers youth leadership through community service. The students worked with WBHM this summer to produce their own radio stories. She talked with WBHM’s Gina Yu about the program.
Hatchett says YouthServe promotes a continuum of youth engagement where all kinds of different opportunities are available. Hatchett explains that students in the program learn about youth leadership and civic engagement. They then take the topics out of their discussions and adapt them into a community service component. Past projects included hosting educational talks about drug and alcohol abuse in different schools.
Youth and Radio
YouthServe recently included a radio storytelling component into their program and asked WBHM to help. “I think when you give a voice to young people, they bring energy and vitality to it,” Hatchett says. “Because they know that this is their future.”
One recent group of students decided to focus on homelessness. They visited a feeding service and interviewed various people there. “They began to understand the systemic barriers of people who are experiencing homelessness,” she says. “They learn a lot about things they see. Youth are so passionate. They’re going, ‘You know, this isn’t fair. This is crazy’.”
Hatchett wants to encourage her students to take their experiences and discoveries and share them with their communities.
Opportunities for Positive Growth
“If we give youth, the opportunity to positively develop, then they will positively develop,” she says. Programs like YouthServe exist to meet students where they are. The focus is to celebrate their passion and compassion. “They’re sensitive to things happening in their community,” Hatchett says. “With all the noise out there in the world, so often, they just feel so small, like there’s nothing they can do about it.”
Youthserve hopes to be one of many programs that offer opportunities for students to make positive choices and meaningful impacts on their communities.
Hear one of the Youthserve radio stories here: