The Youth Build Diversity Ambassador Program was established to serve as a catalyst for positive, transformative change in our community and beyond by investing in our community’s children. An analysis of the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, 2019 results (PAYS) – a biannual survey of students, reveals that students in grades 6 through 12 are vulnerable to antisocial behaviors (ASB), including use and abuse of harmful substances, violence, and gang-related activity. Such antisocial behaviors can lead to crime, violence, delinquency, and poor academic performance (https://www.pccd.pa.gov). Furthermore, children are acutely sensitive to societal upheaval, such as the wave of social dissonance and violence that many of our communities have witnessed and/or experienced following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled insensitivity and intolerance with respect to differences among people, on the basis of race, ethnicity and class, for example. Indeed, it has been reported that students in grades K-12 are suffering increasing events of micro-aggression, biased-based bullying, and cyberspace harassment. Insensitivity and intolerance present a direct threat to the prospects for success of those children confronted by negative attitudes.
The Youth Build Diversity Ambassador Program (Youth Build DAP) was established to counter the culture of insensitivity and intolerance by arming students with education, skills, and mentorship – tools that necessarily maximize their potential for excellence and for being healthy, productive members of our communities. The Youth Build DAP provides a safe space for students to share their stories for the purpose of affirming their unique, personal identities and experiences. The goal of the Youth Build Diversity Ambassador Program is to mitigate the harmful impacts of racial, ethnic, and social bias by affirming personal identity and experiences, promoting solidarity, equipping students with hard interpersonal and leadership skills.
The Program curriculum is based on the SPLC’s Learning for Justice four Social Justice Anchor Standards (Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action) and includes Bullying and Cyberspace Harassment. Students explore and analyze content to shape their understanding of the present, and to think critically about the world they live in and how to create safe and welcoming schools and communities where everyone thrives and succeeds.
Source: Learning for Justice, Southern Poverty Law Center,(SPLC) 400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, Alabama,WelcomingSchools.org, I.HRC.org Cooperative Extension Service of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Lexington, Kentucky, 40546 “Stop Bullying Now”, US department of Health and Human Services – https://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults/tip-sheet-09.aspx. PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, Minneapolis, MN, https://www.PACER.org/bullying