What does life look like to a child in a world almost devoid of hope? What does a world where mommies date addicts, where siblings go to jail, and where food is a rarity, do to a child? Is there any hope that these young people will be able to capture a “normal” life?
And, for those of us who take social stability, access to education, and family strength for granted: how do we see the world through the eyes of these children? How do we empathize? How do we become motivated to help? Most importantly, how do we help these children understand their own power and capacity for growth, change, and happiness?
Youth Ambassadors KC [link: http://youthambassadorskc.org/] describes itself as “an educational, not-for-profit employment program designed to empower underserved youth with the knowledge that they as teenagers have a vital voice. They have the power to be active participants in their communities, not just passive observers.”
Kansas City based advertising agency powerhouse, VML [link: https://www.vml.com/] teamed up with Youth Ambassadors to help them gain attention to these problems. The resulting book, “Welcome to My Neighborhood: real stories written by real children” was recently recognized at the Cannes Festival.
The idea behind the award winning work was to take the innocent tropes of children’s literature and adapt them to a reality faced by so many of America’s youth. The aim was to raise the profile of Youth Ambassadors, so that they could find more partners to help them in their work.
The work is available for download, and I think it speaks for itself. The world it depicts is bleak, but perhaps the fact that these children have been given the opportunity to tell their stories, and thus, by exercising some control over their reality, begin to sense that they can change it, is cause for hope.
See the entire book here: http://youthambassadorskc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Welcome-to-my-Neighborhood.pdf