PROGRAMS - PREVENTION:
Teens on Target (TNT) - At Teens on Target, students from Oakland neighborhoods most affected by violence learn to honor their own stories, to use their experience to make change. They learn to speak to the media and to city leaders. They are taught a youth-authored, comprehensive, six-session violence prevention curriculum, which they then present, in the form of workshops, to middle school students across the city.
Everything we do today at Teens on Target, from the dozens of youth leaders and peer violence prevention educators we train each winter to the hundreds of middle school students those young educators reach each spring, began with a group of 1989 Castlemont High School students who wanted to make a difference. They were growing up in one of Oakland’s most violent communities. They understood the violence and the pain from the inside. Their stories needed to be heard, their wisdom shared. TNT became their outlet and their cause. Those students developed the TNT violence prevention curriculum as a way of creating a discussion on violence, its causes and prevention. Learn more about TNT and read stories from our participants.
Advocacy for Change - Gun violence is linked to the availability of guns in the community, as well as other root causes that can be addressed through advocacy. To push for solutions to the violence, we raise the voices of those affected by violence. We advocate for sensible policies that reduce gun, gang, family and dating violence. Our Advocacy for Change staff and our TNT youth leaders work with city, state and federal leaders to design and pass laws that encourage safety, such as the state ban on assault weapons and the successful campaign to stop the Oakland Tribune from printing ads for guns.
Speak Up, Speak Out - So many who have been victims of violence feel an urge, even a responsibility, to do what they can to make the world a safer, fairer place. And sometimes, telling your story can be a healing experience. Speak Up, Speak Out is our speakers bureau. It’s a training program for youth and adults impacted by violence, who are ready to inform the world with their stories of resilience and their ideas for change. Interested in inviting one of our speakers to an event? Interested in telling your story of violence and healing? Contact the program coordinator and trainer, Gabriel Garcia.
PROGRAMS - INTERVENTION:
Caught In The Crossfire - Through Caught in the Crossfire (CiC), Youth ALIVE! Intervention Specialists meet traumatized young victims of violence at their hospital bedsides to 1) convince them, their friends and family not to retaliate; and 2) offer practical help and a path towards safety and healing.
CiC was born out of a need and a vision. In the early 1990s, young Sherman Spears found himself wounded and angry in a hospital bed in Oakland, reeling from the news that he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. His loved ones offered him the only solace they knew: retaliation. Sherman chose a more peaceful path. Instead of returning to the violent life of the streets, Sherman invented Caught in the Crossfire, our hospital-based violence intervention program. CiC is staffed by specialists recruited from the community they serve, who bring knowledge and caring, not judgment.
Today, at Alameda County trauma centers, CiC intervention specialists and case managers address both the urgent need for violence intervention and the ongoing service needs of traumatized victims as they get back to life, as they confront the sometimes debilitating effects of their trauma. The first program of its kind, Caught in the Crossfire continues to be replicated across the nation.
Interested in starting your own hospital intervention program? Check out our Hospital Intervention Guide.Violence Interruption - Our young people bear the greatest burden of the violence on our streets. But there is hope and there are alternatives. Our Violence Interrupters take to the most dangerous streets at the most dangerous times of night to engage young people, to diffuse tensions, to mediate conflicts and encourage alternatives to violence. These interrupters are people who have been there, who have either worked in street outreach for years or who have been on the other side, who understand the language, the codes, the barriers to a new life for young gang and group members in Oakland’s toughest neighborhoods. They are problem solvers.
Pathways - Since 2002, our intervention specialists have worked with youth at the highest risk for involvement in violence, either because they are already in the juvenile justice system, or have been identified by their school as likely to become so. Some are gang affiliated, some have been suspended for violence, some have been sexually exploited, many have been neglected or even abused at home, if they even have a home, and almost all are truant or failing from school. All need the caring and knowledgeable aid of an adult mentor. We work to increase safety and change outlooks as these young people make their transitions: back home from incarceration, back into school, back into stability. We work with them to make a plan for a future.
National Network - In response to many requests from hospitals and agencies throughout the country interested in replicating our Caught in the Crossfire hospital-based intervention model, Youth ALIVE! helped establish the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (NNHVIP) in 2009, which has grown to include dozens of member programs from across the US, UK, Latin America and Canada. The NNHVIP brings together the best and most exciting programs to share knowledge, develop best practices, collaborate on research, affect policy change, and more. Read more about NNHVIP.
PROGRAMS - HEALING:
Khadafy Washington Project - The Khadafy Washington Project provides critical response to families and friends of homicide victims in order to prevent retaliation and promote healing. These survivors are thrust suddenly into a dark, desperate, confusing place. just at a time when there is much business to attend to: investigations, funerals, forms and fear dominate amid often debilitating grief. For many years in Oakland, survivors of homicide victims found no one to guide them through the business and the grief of being a survivor. In 2000, a mere two months after his high school graduation, Marilyn Washington Harris lost her only son, Khadafy Washington, to the gun in West Oakland. Marilyn had no one to help her and it made a lonely time more lonely and more frightening. She pledged that no family in Oakland would have to make their way alone through a similar loss again. She began stepping into the immediate aftermath of homicides to be the eyes and brains of shocked survivors, to guide them, and protect them from exploitation. Eventually, Marilyn joined us at Youth ALIVE! and our crisis responders proudly carry on the brilliant and caring work she started in the name of her lost son.
Counseling Services - All of our counseling services are administered by a staff highly trained in recognizing the symptoms of trauma that occur in victims of violence. Our mental health counselors provide community-based services in collaboration with our intervention workers. The goal is to assist each client in creating their own road map to healing. For people who have grown up in violent neighborhoods, the traditional 50-minute therapy session is not always the best approach. By bringing therapy out of the clinic and into the community, Youth Alive! has seen an increase in the number of clients engaged in active therapy: from about 5 percent of its clients to 35 percent. All of our clients are eligible for this crucial service in their quest to heal.
START - START (Screening & Tool for Awareness & Relief of Trauma) is a tool we developed with a group of young men recovering from their own gunshot wounds, to help identify otherwise neglected symptoms of trauma and to offer a bit of relief to the sufferer. There are young people in Oakland who have never been shot but who nevertheless are suffering from the trauma of growing up amidst the violence. They see it in their homes, on their streets and in their schools. Many have lost a loved one to the violence. And it affects them. They are traumatized by the violence. START interviews are brief guided conversations, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, conducted by a trained, caring adult, to identify possible symptoms of trauma, to increase understanding of why and how trauma affects us, and to give a sufferer tools for coping in those moments when grief and trauma emerge and threaten to overwhelm. We offer this tool free of charge to partner agencies as well. Take a look at the START website, START2HEAL, to learn more.