Hi, I’m Allie Duke, NAZA’s Youth Advisor since Summer 2019. I first started with NAZA back in Fall 2017. Ever since I was a freshman in high school, I have been volunteering with Nations Ministry Center, a NAZA-funded program, by tutoring refugee middle school youth at McMurray Middle School. After getting to know them more during snack times, I was able to bond specifically with them over soccer. It was clear that having a friend who cared about their progress encouraged them to work even harder. They would come to me with excited eyes whenever they leveled up on their English-learning computer program Lexia, and I got to share in their joy.
Once I saw how positively the after school space affected these young people, I started to look into all that NAZA does. I researched and stumbled upon NAZA’s summer internship through Opportunity NOW. I thought it would be a perfect fit, since my prior connection to NAZA had been such a positive experience. My supervisor Marielle tasked me to look into ways NAZA could become more connected to youth in Nashville. While I was a bit daunted by such an open-ended mission, I was thankful for the amount of trust she had given me and that it was truly youth-led.
I started out researching organizations similar to NAZA nationally to learn how they integrated youth into their work, and I began contemplating what, as a young person, would make my opinion feel valuable. Fast forward to the end of my six weeks, and I had made a pretty fully-developed initiative: Youth in Action!
Now we’re in our first school year of the pilot, and Youth in Action! is actively recruiting high schoolers to become a part of a leadership group taking action in their community. These Youth Community Leaders mentor middle schoolers to help them think through issues and develop solutions at the after-school, school and citywide levels. Youth Community Leaders then meet as a task force called Youth Matters that takes middle schoolers’ ideas (and our own) and implements them widely alongside adult collaborators. While we are currently in a pilot phase in North Nashville, our plan is to build out the initiative to include all of Nashville.
Would you like to join us?
- Share this recruitment flyer with high schoolers in North Nashville.
- Email us at email@example.com with any questions or feedback.
- Be a volunteer mentors/guests at our programs by emailing your area(s) of expertise/interest to firstname.lastname@example.org (for example: social justice, transportation, coping skills, etc.—these have come up in our sessions with middle school youth so far).