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Economy

Youth Ambassadors To Raise Awareness Of Social Programs During Pandemic

Youth Will
Young people gather in a Google Hangout to discuss issues that youths are facing in San Diego during the pandemic in an undated photo.

The county and state have resources for young people, but they’re not always reaching the people they need to during this time of increased isolation.

In response, the youth advocacy group Youth Will is launching the Youth Emergency Resource Ambassador Program.

"The young folks stepped forward and said 'hey, these are the needs that are not being met, here’s the problem and here’s the solution,'" said Sean Elo, Executive Director of Youth Will. "We always try to be solution oriented, right? So the young folks said information is not receiving young people and the solution is being the ambassadors, being the messengers to other young people."

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The ambassadors will be reaching out to other young people to let them know about access to mental health, financial and food assistance, and closing the technology gap now that school and libraries are closed.

Video: Youth Ambassadors Try To Raise Awareness of Social Programs During Pandemic

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Warsan Artan is the youth organizer for Youth Will. She points to one example, menstrual products, as something that young women now need better access to.

"We recognize there are people who relied on schools or whatever programs they were a part of in order to get those products," Artan told KPBS. "And because those institutions are no longer open, so they no longer have access to those things."

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The group recommended pairing food distribution with hygiene products, to make sure they get into households that need it.

The group says that it plans to go beyond just connecting young people with existing help, but to advocate against budget cuts that might further isolate and impoverished youth, like those proposed for the city’s internship programs.

"Just for a little investment, where a $12- or $15- or $13-an-hour internship in the summer can lead to such good benefits down the road, not to mention the positive use of time. Think of that in comparison to what else can be done with empty time during the summer," said Elo.

The group plans to start reaching out to young people across the county this week.

Youth Ambassadors To Raise Awareness Of Social Programs During Pandemic
Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.