For the past few weeks, ECC has been working with Youth Creating Change and the D.C. police. Through this program, I have gotten to see some cool art and learn about a positive program in our city. Youth Creating Change (YCC) is a program established by the Metropolitan Police Department. It seeks to show youth in D.C. (especially those at risk) other parts of the city and teach them skills they may not otherwise experience.
For three weeks, YCC and police officers have youth coming to our facilities to learn how to fish and use power tools. One group would learn how to fish on the Anacostia River, and get to learn about the wildlife in the area. The second group (the one where I helped supervise) learned how to use a grinder to strip paint off a bench and use a welder to mold tools and weld art pieces onto the bench. The bench is being donated to a group called Heeding God’s Call which is a group with multiple chapters dedicated to ending gun violence. This group made a generous donation to fund this portion of YCC and as gratitude YCC is donating the bench to Heeding God’s Call.
The bench the students created was a beautiful and unique one. They started by welding pieces of metal into flowers and then welding the flowers onto old confiscated guns using rebar. After the students grinded off the paint from the bench and polished it up, they welded the guns and flowers onto the bench. The bench serves as a way to show guns do not need to negatively affect people’s lives with violence but can be repurposed as art and be a lifesaving tool for kids. These activities exposes students to possible trades in the future and educates them on their communities by learning from local police officers.
YCC is an awesome program. I’m glad I got to know some of the students and experience their fun personalities. I hope ECC works with YCC. It would be great to develop some sort of summer program. The students learned new skills but so did I. Some of them were so excited to weld and use the tools, it showed me how much they valued the program. That is the real success of the program.