Making Connections: Getting to Know the Students

Youth Institute participants share their objects

WELA YMCA Youth Institute, is part of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative funded by The California Endowment.Youth are exploring and investigating how the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) can empower and improve their local school communities.


The WELA YMCA Youth Institute members were asked to critically examine their neighborhood and explore their community. This exploration was launched by inviting students to answer questions and have an open dialogue about the familiar places in their community. The exercise ultimately attempted to engage students to uncover new ways of looking at their neighborhood, and the way they experience it on a daily basis.

The open dialogue led to an activity in which the students were asked to consider an object that connects them to their community. Focusing on an object allows the youth to make their life experiences more tangible. The goal with this activity was to create a sense of autonomy for the youth by motivating them to be as creative as possible in their choice, and express themselves and their personal connection to their community.

Below are a few examples of the objects that connect the youth to their community. Click here to read all their stories.


"My watch connects me to my community because with it I can tell time. It reminds me of how my community needs better education, because I didn't know how to read an analog watch until I entered high school."--Daniel Vazquez


"An object that connects me to my neighborhood is my TAP card, which links to the bus, because the bus is my source of transportation. It takes me to all the different neighborhoods I feel connected to."--Jayda Lobban


"A skateboard connects me to my neighborhood. It is a way of transportation in my community and skateboarding is part of who I am, without it I feel lost."--Ricky Ruiz


"Photography is something I really enjoy doing and it's very fun. It relates to school because I am part of yearbook and my community because I am able to go out and take picture. A camera connects me to my family and friends because we take pictures together."--Carmen Espinoza


"The object that connects me to my neighborhood is my skateboard, because in my community there are a lot of people that skate and there is even a skate park."--Erick Flores

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