Photo Credits - FBR ExtremeTeen Lily A, 16
The #OurLivesMatter campaign started in October of 2015, as the country was reeling from the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. BGCGW Teen staff and volunteers at the FBR@THEARC Branch were seeking solace and discussing how to best provide answers and a space for dialogue for scared and confused teens. “We understood our obligation to both educate and empower our teens in this moment,” said Teen Director LeVar Jones. After hosting a teen speak-out, BGCGW staff and volunteers began to craft a platform to respond. This led to the #OurLivesMatter Youth Town Hall, held on MLK Day 2015 in THEARC Theater with approximately 225 teens and 75 supportive adults, including police officers, artists, staff and volunteers.
This powerful day set the stage for a year of engaging dialogue that spread across DC and beyond. Throughout the year, #OurLivesMatter planned and hosted a series of additional events including summits at FBR, two local high schools, a community center in Baltimore, and a faith-based summit in the Columbia Heights community. We inspired teens in other BGC’s, such as Hudson County in Jersey City, to host their own #OurLivesMatter event. A group of 11 FBR Club members journeyed to the New Jersey summit attended by over 150 teens, community leaders and government officials.
As a result of this platform, teens in NJ later went on to create and successfully lobby for legislation impacting all teens in the state. The Keystone Law went into effect last month and gives teens access to mental health resources without parental consent, opening the door for them to gain valuable resources needed at pivotal times of their lives. We’re proud that an initiative started by BGCGW Club members is having an impact on teens nationwide, and that more summits are scheduled for 2016, in Richmond VA and beyond.
At its core, the campaign is about engaging young people in impactful, current social issues about which they are passionate. This coming March, during the largest BGCA National Keystone Conference in history, FBR teens will join Teen Director Mr. LeVar to facilitate a workshop on replicating the #OurLivesMatter campaign in the Club environment. A similar workshop will be held at the Annual Conference of The Clubhouse Network, a global conglomerate of youth spaces, of which FBR is a part through the Best Buy Teen Tech Center Program. Our teens are learning and leading and gaining 21st century skills that will not only prepare them to become civic minded and responsible adults, but are putting them on the cusp of sustainable social change right now.
#OurLivesMatter Media Coverage
WUSA 9 Interview
Voices of our Members
“Everyone came together as a community and most importantly as a family in order to find solutions to the challenges and struggles that many people face such as police brutality, peer pressure, poverty, racial profiling, misjudgment, stereotypes, and teen pregnancies.”
Brandon B, 15
“The #OurLivesMatter movement has been a journey for me. Each time I learn something and I’m inspired to do something more for my community. I’m very excited for the future of this mission and journey.”
Ayanna H, 17
“The summit had such a welcoming feeling, that a lot of people didn’t mind sharing their stories. I definitely think that we should have another summit and strive for an even bigger turn out.”
Erikah M, 16