Youth Voices and Summer Celebrations

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

By Mika Hernandez

The beginning of summer often marks an ongoing celebration – it means lazy days and sleeping till noon for many high school and college age youth. Though for the sixteen young people currently taking part in Forward Together’s summer CORE program, the breezy days of summer are interspersed with some serious social justice work.

Forward Together Youth, in conjunction with a long running citywide campaign to create better and more comprehensive sex education in the Oakland Unified School District has created a campaign to bring relatable, interactive, and fun sex education videos to other young people around the globe.

This campaign, titled Sex Ed: The Saga, took root as a large and intensive collaboration between various Forward Together youth leaders, Forward Together staff, and the award winning director, Tani Ikeda.

Ikeda’s film expertise coupled with an interest in Forward Together Youth’s already vibrant campaign work around sex ed and reproductive justice made the short video series seem like a great way to create noise around the need for inclusive, honest conversations around gender, sexuality, sexual health right now!

As this summer has unfolded, and with multiple video shoots under their super sex-ed hero belts, the youth leaders in CORE fearlessly and enthusiastically took lead on a fundraising campaign via the crowdsourcing site, Indie Go Go. They plan to use the money raised to finish the first two videos in time for a summer video premier and get to work on planning the next shoots.

CORE, and the brave, passionate, focused, and humorous youth that comprise the program are all Asian young people from Oakland, CA. The students proclaim on their ‘Who we are’ section of their Indie Go Go page that they “come from low-income, immigrant, and refugee families, and [...] are making change on the issues that are important to us.”

With workshops and trainings filling the time that these youth aren’t working on their campaigns it is apparent that they truly are working on the issues that are pertinent and meaningful for them.

With the hope of future video projects revolving around topics ranging from partner communication, to gender identity and sexual orientation, to family communication, the future of Sex Ed: the Saga seems bright.

With the aid of music, dance, art, and pop culture references the youth are starting conversations on topics that no one else is talking about. All of this from a youth perspective, for the youth perspective to boot!

If you would like to support Sex Ed: the Saga or Forward Together Youth’s other campaign work visit their page. If you are in the Bay Area and want to see the premier of the first two videos from Sex Ed: the Saga be sure to come out to Forward Together’s summer event Oakland Speaks: #SexEd!

Mika Hernandez is an intern at Forward Together this summer, aiding in particular with their Youth Organizing program. She comes to Forward Together from the Civic Liberties and Public Policy program (CLPP) at Hampshire College and is a representative of CLPP's Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps. Mika is excitedly approaching her final year at Hampshire College where she is pursuing studies in the social sciences with focuses on activism, community empowerment, and alternative histories.

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