The CCY Blog

CCY Spotlight: A Way Home America

September 7, 2016

CCY Docs

Profile for California Coalition for Youth: An Interview with A Way Home America

The California Coalition for Youth sat down with A Way Home America – virtually, at least – to find out more about this new national initiative.

What is the purpose and mission of A Way Home America?

A Way Home America (AWHA) is a national initiative to build the movement to prevent and end homelessness among young people. We are homeless youth providers, advocates, researchers, government agencies, philanthropists and young people uniting behind a common goal:

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My Experience at Taking Action Conference 2016

June 20, 2016

Youth Voices

I had the privilege of attending the Taking Action Conference [TAC] hosted by CCY [California Coalition for Youth] this year in Sacramento, CA. During this trip (which was my second TAC) I felt more comfortable and was able to better enjoy the whole experience. This year, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with many wonderful people, all of whom were trying to better the world around them and elicit change in the lives of our youth. I was able to help lead a workshop on “how to properly advocate” [for legislative visits], as well as lead a team through a some of the legislative visits in the capitol.

According to some of my team, I did a great job in leading discussions with legislators, which was a shock to me since it was my second time (ever!) participating in the legislative visits, and it just goes to show that age and experience won’t hold you back if you’re willing to rise up to the challenge and give it your best shot!

My favorite part of the conference was the [youth] rally. I love the opportunity it gives both youth and adults in the ability to share their thoughts and stories. I read a poem I prepared just as I did at the 2015 conference and was so moved to see that people were touched by my words.

My recommendation to all who attend the conference is to stay steady in your pursuits for justice and not to allow the conference to be an excuse for you to just be an activist for just once a year. Take the tools gathered in Sacramento and use them in your own circle of influence.

If we all make small positive changes for those around us it has the potential to start a snowball effect of beneficial growth for the communities we all wish to see thrive. Stay strong and keep moving on.

True Colors Fund Retreat 2016

May 31, 2016

Youth Voices

I am one of the 2016 True Fellows with the True Colors Fund. The True Colors Fund works to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, creating a world in which young people can be their true selves.

Last year I spoke on the first youth panel at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference. It was the first time I’d been ask to speak about my thoughts and feelings about homelessness instead on my personal experiences. It was very empowering, I felt like I wasn’t just a tokenized homeless queer transgender kid. I felt like I was being respected as a professional but also as a young person whose experiences makes them an expert. After this I knew I wanted to get more involved with the True Colors Fund.

This year I am so honored to be one of the fellows. My focus in on public policy, one of my many passions. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much from the other fellows and the True Colors Fund staff during our retreat. The staff led us in discussions about topics like personal branding, self-care, social media marketing, and public speaking.

One of the things that really hit home with me was owning my authority when speaking, I’m often very shy or anxious when I do public speaking. Hearing the Jama Shelton talk about owning our authority was like a confidence boost. It validated that I know what I am talking about and reminded me to own that.

I was also able to build a community with the other Fellows. They are from all over the United States. It was empowering to be able to see all the amazing work these other youth are doing in their communities from using TV as a form of activism in rural Minnesota to working as a community organizer in New York City.

At the closing of the retreat Twiggy Pucci Garçon led us in an activity where sat in a circle and we passed a ball of yarn across to someone who impacted us over the four days. We told them what impact they had on us and passed it to a person who didn’t have any yarn. By the end we had a web that showed was a visual of the connections we built. Someone said if one of the connections broke it would all start to fall apart so it was up to all of us to keep it together. I cannot wait to see them again at the 40 to None Summit in October where we will be talking about all the work we did during our fellowships!

Who We Are Today

May 31, 2016

Youth Voices

I often sit and ponder who we could’ve been.
If our lives had gone just perfect and we had no scars on our skin.
If our fathers were still our heroes.
Our mothers still our definition of a saint.
The number of trials we faced was zero.
We never stared into eyes filled with hate.
We got all A’s and studied hard.
Had no enemies to be seen.
Lived in a house with white picket fence and big front yard.
Reality preferred to our dreams.
Our siblings never became addicts.
Our parents never split.
A therapist never described our story as tragic.
No need to nervously bite our lips.
We never got evicted.
Never lived on the streets.
Our morals never twisted.
We never crumbled to our knees.
Never had to fight.
Or step beyond the law.
Never questioned our choices
Or our will to live at all.
Never felt hopeless.
Never felt depression in our chest.
Never had a relationship broken.
Never failed a really important test.
We never got told no.
We never got shut down.
We were never described by our teachers as “slow”
The tune of our own breathing was never an annoying sound.
Never lied or cheated.
Never hurt someone we loved.
Never got mistreated.
Never told we were bums.
But that’s just not the case.
Fate had different plans.
We have scars we care not to explain.
Memories we can’t stand.
We get stressed out and panic.
We become lost in our thoughts.
We have unhealthy habits.
Our shirts have stains and spots.
However, you could never understand how joyful we truly are.
Because everything listed after “never” could have never turned us falling rocks into shooting stars.
If we didn’t have scars where would we find stories?
If we hadn’t felt those “lows” how could we appreciate the “highs” in all their glory?
Yes we’ve been at rock bottom.
And we have felt true grief.
But we look back and think that’s awesome!
Those experiences molded us into the strong young people you see.
We’re more powerful now than ever and not because of a perfect life.
How could you possibly handle perfect if you never learned to conquer strife?
It’s such an old cliche “keep going, it gets better”
But with all honesty I can proclaim after living a life of storms you truly appreciate the sunny weather.
We have been beaten and broken.
Life has put us in situations where we didn’t have anything good to say.
But if my life was a movie and I was allowed to alter the script before someone pressed play.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Because I’m not worried about what could’ve been.
I instead focus on who we are today.
By Levi


February 12, 2016

Youth Voices

People stop, with prejudice, looking for the “MONSTER” in peoples’ actions, habits, behaviors, and situations. We are not accountable for other peoples’ actions right? Well what about when a person is placed in a “fight or flight,” or in simpler terms “act or run,” situation. Today there are individuals who are placed in situations that influence their decision making process, from others. Meaning we set people up for “failure” and think we are doing a service to others because we have shown exposed the “MONSTER”. Example: You are trying to get your parent’s attention and your say their name repeatedly. Gradually your voice goes up within your repetition of that person’s name. At the moment a “MONSTER” comes out because the individual screams WHAT! Now with that aggression, discomfort is then influenced and a “negative” experience has been created. Because there is a “negative” denotation to “MONSTER” it seems that more people will hunt for a “MONSTER” then a graceful truth. A graceful truth is seeing things for what they could be and trying to be completely trust worthy and open to any and all situations, a hard concept to imagine, without any attachment of one’s identity and acknowledge that it’s purpose will be reveal and it may or may not be for me to witness the truth because it is not for me. Now of course, this is my mind running thoughts and potential influencing conversation and/or thoughts from exterior sources in which may serve a purpose on my timeline. Another thought: I feel that within our society today there are many who are suppressed and are looking for a way to fit into a box. That box isn’t general nor is this box explainable. The box is a vote in democracy, the trending now, the keeping up with the gates, the he say she say. And then on the other hand are we trying to be one box inside another box that continues forever with other little boxes? I have no answers just thoughts don’t we all. I am never right and I am never wrong when it comes to my independent, without outside influences, brain. But when you are born and become a developing person your actions are no longer yours they are influence and persuaded by the world.