What’s in a space?
It’s not news that the gentrification of Seattle is having very real effects on South King County communities, specifically lower income and communities of color. Moving to the third most gentrified city in the US many communities and organizations are working together to create spaces of safety, belonging, community, and empowerment for our young people. Over the last several years Seattle has seen physical spaces change before our eyes – what we have learned though is the ability and strength youth development workers have in bringing a youth space alive.
Visiting any youth space is exciting but entering Sylvester middle school gym to the better half of 50 teens talking, playing, creating, and just spending time together is inspiring. Youth vote with their feet – so whenever a space is filled with youth that choose to be there, you know that space is offering all the right things.
Patricia Mejia, Teen Programmer for City of Burien and her Teen Late Night Staff are intentionally creating powerful spaces for teens in Burien to come and be their fullest selves. Late Night is on its 20th year, created in the Fall of 1999, Patricia was one of the first youth to attend Late Night then applied to join Burien Parks & Rec in 2003. In fact most of the current late night staff and employees have all started as teens in the Late Night program!
“I believe the most important element is connection. We want to meet youth where they are, and want our program to be an inviting space where everyone (including youth and staff) can be their own authentic self. This is vital and most important in creating real relationships between our staff and our youth,” said Mejia.