Fighting Poverty with Passion
The summer continues to move quickly by at Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. At the end of July, we hosted a screening of 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story, a documentary about a young man sentenced to life without parole for a crime he committed as a teenager. We had a full house at Zeitgeist Multi-disciplinary Arts Center for the screening and panel discussion featuring our executive director, Josh Perry, City Councilmember Susan Guidry, and Nelson Taylor from Citizens for Second Chances. Thank you to my fellow VISTAs who were able to attend! For those who couldn’t, you can read about the discussion in the Louisiana Weekly.
We continue to move forward on our October event, bringing Richard Ross’s Juvenile in Justice exhibit to New Orleans for National Youth Justice Awareness Month. I’ve successfully secured partnerships with almost a dozen groups, from fellow youth-serving non-profits to local universities. With the funding in place, I’m looking forward to finalizing our partner events and tackling media outreach.
I’m hoping that outreach will help lay the groundwork for our fall media push and our efforts to establish a strategic communications plan. In preparation, I am putting together a media kit to be added to our website and used in future editorial board meetings, as well as researching which journalists and publications are covering our issues both locally and nationally.
My other project at the moment is drafting a report on the state of juvenile justice in New Orleans ten years after Katrina and our agenda for its future. Part of the problem with the juvenile justice system, though, is the lack of data recording and sharing between agencies. For example, only recently have we begun to cobble together information on the number of juveniles transferred to the adult system – this number has simply never been tracked before. So while it’s been challenging to research, it’s given me the opportunity to learn even more about the history of juvenile justice in NOLA – a history which is unsurprisingly grim. And I look forward to getting to interview some folks who have been working in the city on this issue for many years.
In VISTA news, our new cohort has arrived. While I’m a bit of an odd duck being the only one to start in April, I feel very lucky to have watched the last cohort’s year come to an end. Hearing them reflect on their service – both the good and the bad – helped me think about how I can be intentional with my time in VISTA, and give and get the most out of it that I can. So thank you to the old VISTAs, and welcome to the new! I’m excited to work with you all.