“It’s essential to encourage youth to use their voice for good. It’s equally essential to have productive conversations where we listen, understand, and take appropriate actions to ensure an equal and great future for all of Michigan’s youth.” – from Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates equality statement.
By way of taking action, June 24 was our first listening event in our newly created virtual series, “Coffee with a Purpose.” Youth Solutions Executive Director, Kristin Harrington, was joined by JMG Specialists; Danny Jennings, Carolyn Miller, and Meagan Staton, and their exceptional young people; Michael (Mike) Kirby, Delann Pillivent, and Kyra Gibson to discuss the topic, COVID-19: The Pandemic’s Impact on Michigan Youth. Their inspirational stories and powerful voices spoke to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as looking to the future and making their mark. Our youth expressed the need for adults to understand the new challenges of social isolation, the difficulties of pivoting to online learning, and the loss of extra curricular activities.
“Some things we value have been taken away from us or put on hold, like sports or hanging with friends,” stated Mike, a rising junior at Benton Harbor High School. As a testament to his persistence, he continued, “We will all exit the pandemic stronger and wiser.”
Delann, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Class of 2020 and incoming freshman at the University of Michigan stated during the conversation, “We are the future. You guys should pay attention to us.” Yes, Delann, we most definitely should, which is why we created this platform to listen.
“Coffee with a Purpose” was created to explore a range of topics relevant to our youth and to society. Next time, JMG youth and specialists will share their perspectives on the racial and other inequalities facing our nation and their ideas for how to address it. This is sure to be another thought provoking session. Date and time for this critically important conversation will be shared soon. We hope you will join us for the next “Coffee with a Purpose.”
We encourage you to watch the recording of the conversation and listen to the voices of our youth.