Thursday, August 03, 2006

YSS History

We were founded on August 13, 1994, as a result of a successful peace conference at the University of Illinois—Chicago where 200 young people and adults gathered together to address and improve upon the conditions that youth experience in their communities, neighborhoods, schools, jobs and families. We also discussed societal issues like poverty, racism, police brutality, poor education, drug abuse, cultural and historical ignorance (or denial) and violence in all forms.

We got together in the early days to help with the initiation of young men and women into manhood and womanhood. There were peace retreats to attend and peace conferences to participate in. Relationships between adults and young people were based on mutual respect—something that had been missing from their lives for quite some time.

In 1997, We were featured in a PBS documentary, “Making Peace.” It profiled eight different organizations from different parts of the country that were making positive changes in their communities. Our segment was named “Soul Survivors” and profiled our co-founder Luis Rodriguez, an established activist, author and poet. Our work can be seen making positive changes in young peoples’ lives.

Luis moved back to his hometown of Los Angeles in 2000, with his daughter Andrea also leaving Chicago the following year. Frank and Louise Blazquez, a couple of our adult mentors at the time, took over YSS shortly after. Along with their daughter Tanee and son Frankie and several of their indigenous spiritual circle, they inherited the directorship and introduced much of their own spiritual, cultural and artistic philosophies to form an elder-guided and youth-directed YSS.

We continue to work towards the goal of obtaining equality, justice, peace and self-awareness to all young people and many adults alike. Our ultimate goal is to assist in the creative transformation of all youth and young adults we come in contact with, from gangs, the abuse of drugs, materialism and alienation into consciously awakened men and women. We work to help them realize their true human potential, so that they can contribute to all of our communities.


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