Celebrating 20 Years of Youth-to-Youth Legal Education

One of the ways that West Coast LEAF uses the law as a tool for social change is through public legal education. Our public legal education program encourages people to think critically about the law and society, and to understand and exercise their legal rights. For the last 20 years, part of the way we conduct our public legal education is through our Youth Workshop Program, which uses a peer-to-peer education model.

Our Youth Workshop Program offers youth ages 10+ rights-based content facilitated by our team of volunteer youth facilitators. Our workshops aim to empower youth in knowing their rights and to create a space where youth can have critical discussions about the law and what we can do to create a respectful, just, and substantively equal society.

We cover topics like consent and sexual assault, online violence, workplace rights, and equality rights under Section 15 of the Charter. Since 1999, our youth program has reached youth all over Metro Vancouver, as well as other parts of the province (mostly Nanaimo and Kamloops) on unceded Indigenous homelands.

Read more about the youth workshops we offer! 

A Commitment to Justice through Ongoing Learning

What does it mean to be on unceded lands? How are power and violence related? How is gender socially constructed? What does all this have to do with the law? How does the law protect us? In what ways does it perpetuate injustice? What can we do as young people to work towards a substantively equal society? What role does the law play in all of this?

These are the kinds of questions our youth facilitators tackle with youth participants in our workshops. I am inspired by the expansive ways that both facilitators and participants in our workshops understand these huge, complex concepts and issues.

 “The youth facilitation program not only allowed me a way to contribute to the education of youths in the community, but it also ended up being an amazing learning experience from my end as well.” – Youth Facilitator

Youth empowering other youth to know their legal rights and responsibilities is an exciting thing. Our Youth Program would not be what it is today without our dedicated group of youth facilitators. As the out-going Youth Workshop Coordinator, I extend my deep gratitude to all the people that have contributed to our vibrant youth program this year!

Thank you to the 2018/2019 cohort of youth volunteers for all your time and energy: Alexa Traboulay, Carolina Judkowicz, Chelsea Walsh, Diana Wang, Gen Nacionales, Kala Bryson, Majka Hahn, Mary Su, Naomi Noda, Rowena Sahota, Sakiko Noda, Shaoli Choudhury, Victoria Tortora, and Zain Abdulla.

Photo of a group of people in front of a white wall with fairy lights in the background
WCL youth volunteers with Check Your Head facilitators after their Popular Education and Anti-Oppressive Facilitation Tips Workshop, Dec 2018

Building Skills, Building Community

The youth volunteers are a dynamic, thoughtful, and fun group of young people who are committed to social justice and intersectional feminist values. When beginning the program, volunteers undergo a core training weekend where they learn about West Coast LEAF’s work, our youth workshop content, and anti-oppressive facilitation tips, and meet like-minded young people. We have ongoing training at our monthly meetings, where we learn from people working in other youth-serving organizations and the social justice legal field.

“WCL’s youth programme is by far one of the most fun, friendly and supportive volunteer programmes out there! The programme is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to learn & contribute to social justice.” – Zain, Youth Facilitator

At our monthly meetings this year, our youth volunteers participated in workshops facilitated by Simran Sarwara and Ben Keane o’Hara from PeerNetBC, Emily Gorham and Aida Mwanzia from Check Your Head, Ghada Dbouba and Winslow from YouthCO, Amber Prince (West Coast LEAF board chair) from Atira Women’s Resource Society, Patricia Barkaskas from the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, and West Coast LEAF staff Alana Prochuk, Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson, Isabelle Busby, and Afifa Hashimi.

Thanks to all of these amazing facilitators, our Youth Program volunteers were able to convene every month and continue our discussions about the importance of anti-oppressive youth education, the intersection of colonial law and social justice issues, and decolonization within legal landscapes.

“The youth program is a great opportunity to learn about the intersection of law + social issues and meet inspiring leaders in this area, along with fellow young adults from different backgrounds.” – Diana, Youth Facilitator

On behalf of West Coast LEAF, I would like to thank everyone who shared their time and knowledge with our youth program this year. It was a pleasure learning alongside each of you! Thanks to you, we were able to continue delivering our workshops in diverse, inclusive, and dynamic ways to over 2100 youth from September 2018 to May 2019. Here’s to the next 20 years!

If you are interested in booking one of our workshops for a youth group over the summer, or for the 2019/2020 school year, please email youth@westcoastleaf.org with your request. Workshops should typically be booked about a month in advance.

If you are interested in volunteering with our youth program as a workshop facilitator, stay tuned for the 2019/2020 intake. Recruitment will begin in the fall and the training typically happens at the start of October.

A selfie photo of a person taking the photo holding plants and behind the person is a large group of people holding naloxone kits
WCL youth volunteers with YouthCo. facilitators after their Harm Reduction and Naloxone Training Workshop, Feb 2019
Photo Credit: Kaymi Yoon-Maxwell

Kaymi Yoon-Maxwell is the outgoing Youth Workshop Coordinator at West Coast LEAF. Kaymi is grateful to everyone who has been part of building the youth program over the past 20 years.

Questions? Feedback? Email us at blog@westcoastleaf.org

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