APATHY HAS NO PLACE IN OUR WORLD TODAY.
Central to our vision is to attract and engage young people who have a passion for contributing to their communities and working to make the world a better place. There are many opportunities and organizations throughout Portland where we can get involved and be of service. Part of our purpose is to inspire and grow youth changemakers, so that we enter adulthood as involved, informed and empowered citizens.
What makes Youth Igniting Change unique is that we’re an organization of young people who — with the support of parents, friends and teachers, are identifying the areas we want to focus, the specific issues we want to work on, how it is that we’re going to make a positive impact.
Following are some of the initiatives Youth Igniting Change has taken on over the past few years, and
ways we’re making a difference in our community.
WORKING TO END OUR CLIMATE CRISIS AND PRESERVE OUR FUTURE
— MARCH 15, 2019 GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE & NATIONAL SCHOOL WALK-OUT —
On March 15th, 2019, young people from all around the world came together to protest the catastrophic impact that the power and corruption big oil companies are having on our planet. Youth organized strikes in 123 countries across the globe and in every state in America, to send a clear message to our elected officials that it’s their responsibility to protect the well-being of the citizens that voted them into office, and to also preserve our planet for future generations.
Youth Igniting Change was part of the planning and organizing group for Portland’s participation in the global strike, the national school walkout campaign and the local demonstration that happened at Portland City Hall and the Portland School District Offices. We worked together with other local Portland climate justice organizations and students passionate about climate crisis reform legislation.
We planned for and anticipated a couple hundred students from a handful of schools would be inspired by the demonstration we were organizing in our city and join us, but were stunned to have had over 2000 students join us, with representation from every high school in the Portland Metro Area.
It turned out to be the largest youth lead demonstration in Portland’s history.
The media covered our speeches at City Hall, and our march through downtown Portland, over the Steel Bridge and Willamette River, to our school district offices. We first spoke to our elected Portland officials at City Hall about their responsibility to protect our future, and then to our school district officials to demand curriculum be implemented for our students to be educated about the climate crisis, we’re going to end up having to solve.
Many things happened that day. Young people from all around the world, and right here in our own city realized that we have the capacity to organize and speak up for our future and our rights. We demonstrated that we could take a stand for something that we believe to be of the utmost urgency, and to do so non-violently. We found allies in each other, and in the adults in our communities that are also committed to fighting big oil interests and protecting our futures.
Mostly, we realized that we’re really still at the very beginning stages of the work that needs to be done, to make the changes that need to happen to stop the devastation that’s already occurred on our planet — and to begin the work of addressing all that we’ve already lost because of the climate crisis, and start finding our way to solutions.
Youth Igniting Change will continue to travel to Salem to speak directly to our state elected officials and their staff. We’ll participate in lobbying activities and demonstrations at our capitol. When there is a value and a need for the voices of the young people to be heard at state government hearings, we’ll be there.
The climate change crisis is no longer an issue that can be ignored, or where we can wait until we until we are of voting age. We’ve read the reports. We understand that this is a crisis, and if it takes young people leading the way to change, we’re up for that challenge.
Advocating for those Experiencing Homelessness
— 100 KEEP WARM ITEMS IN 100 HOURS PROJECT —
In early January 2017, during a series of the most severe winter storms Portland had experienced in over two decades, Youth Igniting Change Founder, Jaden Winn was moved into action because multiple members of the community who were experiencing homeless died due to hypothermia because of the record-breaking sub-zero temperatures.
Jaden decided to use his upcoming 14th birthday as an opportunity to promote a fundraising campaign and donation drive to raise money and to buy supplies to create cold-weather kits, and to collect key warm items to deliver to people experiencing homelessnes, who were living on the Portland streets during the extreme winter weather.
Within just a couple of days of launching the #100KeepWarmItemsIn100Hours project , Jaden, along with the help of his family, friends and neighbors, rallied his community to raise over $2,500 and gather enough donated items to make 30+ cold weather kits, that included tents, tarps, blankets, jackets, socks, gloves, hats, personal care items, snacks and water, which even included playing cards and coloring books
The outpouring of support from the community was immediate, deeply caring and provided far more financial resources and donated items than anticipated. Neighbors even helped identify the locations in Portland that had the greatest need, where the kits and supplies could be delivered.
And in the spirit of giving, the Clackamas Service Center, where Jaden delivered the donations surprised him with a birthday cake and celebrated his commitment to being of service to his community.
The experience of the power of community Jaden had with his family, friends and neighbors — and the success of the project was actually the inspiration for starting Youth Igniting Change and for Jaden expanding the activism and community service work he’s now passionately involved with.
FUNDRAISING FOR NEW AVENUES FOR YOUTH
Soon after starting Youth Igniting Change, we realized that the partnerships we make and collaborations we enter into provide the greatest opportunity to enhance and expand the impact we can make in our community. Because we’re an organization of young people who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of other young people who need support, resources and allies, we were thrilled to find New Avenues for Youth, and to support their work through our fundraising efforts.
New Avenues for Youth (NAFY) works in partnership with the Portland community to prevent youth homelessness and provide young people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness the resources and skills needed to lead healthy, productive lives.
Motivated by a community service project we had to do for school, and inspired by the number of ways that NAFY cares for some of the most vulnerable young adults in our community, we chose New Avenues for Youth as the recipient of a fundraising campaign we lead. We utilized our efforts in raising money for New Avenues for Youth as an opportunity to talk with family, friends, neighbors, and teachers about the youth homelessness crisis in Portland, and bring awareness why youth homelessness in particular exists and persists.
We’ve found that the more people understand the causes and conditions of youth homelessnness, the more they’re willing to contribute and be of support to the young people in our community who need additional help and our kindness.
Youth Igniting Change is proud to have already contributed close to $5,000 to New Avenues for Youth, and look forward to other opportunities where we can be part of their fundraising efforts, and to support the programs that are providing so much good for young people in our community who need our support.
YOUTH MOTIVATIONAL TALKS
Starting at age 10, our Founder, Jaden Winn began speaking to groups of kids about the positive impact contributing to your community, practicing compassion for yourself and for others, and leading with kindness can have on your life. These service and speaking experiences have been the greatest opportunity for Jaden’s own growth — which completely changed his perspective about many things in life. It also taught him how to ‘yes’, even when he wasn’t feeling 100% confident.
Facing his fears, and saying yes, ultimately lead to opportunities for Jaden to get involved in projects and the work he’s so passionate about now. It also provided many experiences to make and grow meaningful friendships.
It is because of how Jaden’s community involvement, growing activism work, and mentoring others has changed his life, that he’s inspired to share his journey with others, and how when he turned his focus towards service and finding ways to help others was the gamechanger for him.
Jaden now seeks out opportunities to talk with young people about he got started on his activism path, and what it means for him to be a changemaker. He shares highlights from his year-long service project, where he traveled around the country talking with other young people about ways they can get involved and contribute to their community, and the value of small acts of kindness, and the ripple effect they can have.
His youth activism work and support of other young people have led to opportunities where he’s spoken to groups of 500 peers, an auditorium of adults, accepting an award in front of 18,000 people, and several TV and radio interviews.
Jaden enjoys sharing his path to activism story and inspiring other young people in finding their way to be of service in a way that they’re passionate about. He also continues to work on his public speaking skills and developing his talks in a way that are engaging, appropriate, and empowering for his audience.
If you have a speaking opportunity for Jaden and would like to explore booking him for an assembly or an event, please contact us at Amplify@YouthIgnitingChange.com.