Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) is the youth branch of Save Our Streets Brooklyn. YO S.O.S. gathers young people who have been exposed to violence and who want to make social change and trains them to become peer educators and community organizers in the movement to end gun violence.
Through a combination of hands-on workshops and community organizing opportunities over the course of 8 months, YO S.O.S. participants develop fundamental leadership skills including public speaking, team work, creative problem solving, emotional regulation, networking, event planning, resume writing, and campaign strategies among others. Participants who successfully complete the program receive a stipend, community service credit, and assistance in securing paid summer employment or internship positions.
YO S.O.S. offers after-school workshops 1-2 times a week designed to help participants process the adversity they’ve faced in their lives; build new knowledge and skills; and become powerful leaders in their communities. Workshops cover topics such as community organizing and youth activism, roots of violence, trauma and mental health, conflict de-escalation, diversity and social justice, media literacy, and leadership and communication styles. In addition to core content, workshops are designed to develop transferable skills including public speaking, teamwork, and critical thinking.
Community Organizing and Peer Education:
YO S.O.S. participants work together to design and implement public education campaigns to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in the community and promote healing and social change. Youth Organizers learn about organizing methods, messaging and marketing, event planning, and group facilitation and deliver workshops and presentations to other youth and to adult stakeholders. Youth Organizers are encouraged to use creative, cutting edge methods to ensure that their campaign messages successfully reach the broader NYC youth community. In the past this has included visual arts, hip-hop song creation and music video production, short film, spoken word poetry, theater, and more. YO S.O.S. also participates in community anti-violence projects, cultural enrichment field trips, and related service projects including the annual Arts to End Violence gallery and block party and the Save Our Streets talent show.
College and Career Readiness:
YO S.O.S. participants are exposed to educational and work opportunities throughout the program year. This includes workshops on resume building, interviewing skills, and professionalism in the workplace. Participants also go on college tours, hear from speakers from various career paths, and collaborate with staff to identify their own strengths, interests, and future goals. Towards the end of the program year, staff work with Youth Organizers to place them in summer employment positions or internships.