Young Invincibles, in partnership with the Denver Chamber of Commerce, recently graduated our summer cohort of the Denver Youth Leadership Academy. Thirteen young adult leaders between the ages of 16 and 24 who have confronted unique and significant adversity in their lives graduated from our program, underscoring the magnitude of their accomplishments. In the face of overwhelming circumstances – the ongoing global pandemic, economic recession, and the corrosive influence of systemic racism – they showed up every week with a deep desire to change their communities and leave them better than they found them. It is not easy to stay the course and resist the impulse of surrender when embarking on a meaningful project but doing so revealed the full range of their resilience and fortitude. We’re proud to showcase the culmination of months of hard work and dedication by our young adult leaders.
The summer cohort focused their service learning projects on four major areas: Mental Health, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigration, and the value of Voting.
Andres Quintanar, Seraphina Loukas, Maelah Robinson-Castillo, Gaurab Koirala, and Issai Aquino Sotelo made the video below. Their goal was to begin the process of destigmatizing the need to ask for help with mental and behavioral health, uniquely focusing on communities of color. Even before COVID, mental health care comes up as a topic our young adults want to work on every year and this need has only been exacerbated by the crises the world is facing. We’re so proud our young advocates take on this huge issue in every cohort.
Criminal justice reform is front of mind for everyone in our community. The group of young adults working on this project made a full-length documentary exploring the issues and solutions to our criminal justice system. Grace Elisabeth Monteith, Juanita Hurtado, and Om Al Baneen Al Yasiri dove into the institution that purported punishment as a means of deterrence and underlined the entrenched systems of inequality. Their work is another needed block in the fight for criminal justice reform. We’ll share the video with you when it’s complete.
Many of our young adults are either immigrants or children of immigrants. They know firsthand how challenging it is to navigate complicated systems with the added challenge of cultural and language barriers. Jason Cui, Mariah Guerrero, Marisa V Beltran, Mildred Gonzalez, and Noelie Lisvetter Quintero developed this beautiful website to give other people experiencing similar challenges the resources and hope they need.
The DYLA cohort had a friendly video competition to encourage other young adults to turn out in this year’s election. Below is the winner, Marisa’s, video.
Remember the names of these young adults. We’re certain this is just the beginning of their leadership journey.