Introduction - Grantmakers Forum of New York by linxiaoqin

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									     September 11th: Supporting the Youth Agency Response
                                      Interim Report
                                     January 23, 2002


Introduction

Youth agencies compose an important part of our community’s web of supports, and this
web was severely strained by the aftermath of September 11th. Young people
experienced shock, grief, and felt vulnerable. The diversity of cultures and ethnicities
that usually make us strong seemed suddenly to be a point of weakness and insecurity.
Young people, especially those who are South Asian or Middle Eastern, became victims
of bias, and there were fears that others might become instigators. In short, fracture lines
appeared in our psyches and in our communities under the tremendous stress of the
September 11th attacks.

Recognizing the critical role of youth agencies in supporting the development of young
people, especially in the hours, days and weeks after the September 11th attacks, in
November the New York Community Trust gave a six-month $300,000 grant to the
Partnership for After School Education (PASE). The grant is designed to support PASE
as an agency directly impacted by the destruction of the World Trade Center, since we
are located two blocks away. In addition, the grant is intended to help youth-serving
agencies better respond to the needs of young people and their families through a series
of PASE collaborations and initiatives. This report summarizes PASE’s activities
through early January. We start with the emergency’s impact on PASE, and then move
on to the initiatives that PASE launched.

Emergency’s Direct Impact on PASE

Since PASE is located two blocks from the World Trade Center, we were not able to
access our office and so it was immediately clear that alternative arrangements were
needed. The home of Janet Kelley, the Executive Director of PASE, became the
temporary office and staff as a whole or in smaller groups met there on a daily basis.
Through the contacts of the Board of Directors, a temporary office was soon located in a
law office in midtown Manhattan. While the office was not large enough to
accommodate all staff, it was sufficient to function as a base of activity.

To set up the office, cell phones, laptops, office furniture, and office supplies were
purchased. The law firm housing PASE allowed us to access a telephone line, and their
fax and copying machines, and passed along to us the usage costs. This temporary office
gave PASE a fixed reference point—a telephone number, fax and address that is critical
for carrying out our work with the afterschool field.

Youth agencies and funders around the city made available their space for various small
and large group meetings. A Funders Breakfast to discuss how youth agencies were
responding to the emergency, scheduled for early October, was supposed to be held at
PASE and the Carnegie Corporation was gracious to act as a host. A Forum was
organized around the same time for youth agencies to share how they were addressing the
needs of young people and families, and The Valley played a key role in organizing the
space and logistics. The Pinkerton Foundation and Vivendi Universal both provided
space for Program Council meetings.

PASE’s permanent office at 120 Broadway, over the next three months, slowly became
more and more accessible and usable as a functioning office. For the first six weeks or
so, there were no telephone lines and this became one of the two major hurdles to
returning all staff to “normalcy.” The second was the air quality. As the fires were
slowly put out and the air quality improved noticeably, more staff were able to begin to
use the permanent office on an occasional basis. After testing the air quality a number of
times and determining that it was safe to be in the office, we purchased a high quality air
filter, regularly changed the filters in our central air conditioning unit, and we were
eventually able to make it tolerable for even those staff suffering from asthma and bad
allergies. Finally, by mid-December, between the telephone lines and the air quality, we
were able to close the midtown office and call 120 Broadway home once again.

On a final note, PASE’s office was open on the morning of September 11th as a training
was scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m. The group of staff who were in the office or stepping
out of the subways and on the street at the time of the attack are all safe, we are happy to
report. However, each have a frightening story to tell, and in their own ways, have
needed time and support to come to grips with what they felt and experienced that day.
PASE organized a “staff debriefing” with a psychologist to help everyone process their
emotions, and the Board of Directors made it clear that if any staff wanted to seek
counseling, that this would be paid for by the organization.

PASE’s Response to the Emergency

Rapid Assessment of Youth Agencies: In the weeks after September 11th, PASE
conducted a rapid assessment of how youth agencies were being impacted by the
emergency. We systematically telephoned a few hundred programs to determine what
their priority needs were, and what types of supports they might require. What we
learned included:

   Especially since schools were closed for the first few days, youth programs felt a
    strong desire to be open. Many reported that young people used their space as a
    meeting point during what are normally school hours—thus extending the
    programming hours that staff needed to supervise. However, staying open was a



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    huge challenge since transportation (for staff and young people) was extremely
    difficult, which made extending hours and staff coverage practical issues that needed
    to be surmounted.

   In contacting agencies, we heard many stories about individual families or agency
    staff who had suffered a loss. While this was not common, neither was it uncommon.
    Beyond life and death, programs reported that staff, young people, and families were
    quite concerned about their continuing safety and were struggling with the emotional
    fall out from the events. These issues characterized what afterschool programs were
    dealing with during the first month or so, a period of time when it was still too soon
    for them to anticipate what the medium- and longer-term effects would be.

   Many programs reported that they had to add support programs for young people,
    most frequently to address the emotional toll everyone felt. For example, almost
    every program we contacted, as might be expected, created some type of opportunity
    for young people to share their thoughts and feelings about what was happening.
    Similar processes were put in place for staff as well. How to talk to young people
    (and their families) about what was happening, and how to be sensitive to the
    emotional consequences, was a challenge that most programs needed to address.

   Many programs reported both positive and negative experiences in their relationship
    with public schools. Quite a number of youth programs collaborated with public
    schools in responding to September 11th. Often this was to either provide mental
    health services to students, or to conduct classroom sessions to help students process
    what was going on. On the other hand, as may be recalled, public announcements on
    television and radio proclaimed that afterschool programs were closed, which was
    inaccurate—only those afterschool programs operating out of school buildings were
    closed since the Board of Education had decided to shut down. This was of great
    concern since most youth programs operate out of their own space, and many
    reported that youth were spontaneously using their site as a gathering point—a
    practice they wanted to continue, not hinder.

   As we know, there was an enormous desire to “do something.” Within the
    afterschool field, this frequently translated into organizing or participating in some
    type of event, whether it was a remembrance, vigil, or community “thank you.” For
    those agencies that have community service programs, many found themselves in the
    position to facilitate service projects on the part of their young people. There was and
    still is a tremendous interest in this type of work.

   Perhaps fueled by media reports that described celebrations by “Arabs” or “people
    from the Middle East,” many youth agencies were concerned about their young
    people being victims or instigators of bias incidents. There was an enormous interest,
    therefore, in learning more about Islam, as well as a renewed sense of urgency to
    develop or strengthen activities that stress conflict resolution skills and promote
    cultural diversity and tolerance.




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Building a Broad Base Response: In the weeks after September 11th, to build a broad-
based response and system of supports for youth-serving programs, PASE organized two
events, a Youth Agency Forum and a Funder Breakfast. We also launched a survey of
youth agencies to gather data on the impact of 9/11 and to develop a more complete
picture of agency responses.

Youth Agency Forum: With support from the New York Community Trust, on October
12, 2001 close to 200 people attended a PASE General Forum entitled “The Youth
Agency Response: Supporting Your Young People & Staff,” held at Columbia
University’s Lerner Hall. The event started with a panel of representatives of
community-based youth serving organizations, who told their own stories of what
happened in their communities, and what lessons they learned. After that, participants
got together by borough to exchange what had been happening in their local
neighborhoods and share resources. Then, participants attended hands-on workshops,
geared for direct service staff, on topics including:

   How to Assist Parents in Talking With Children About Violence and Terrorism,
    Gabrielle Aponte, Literacy Assistance Center
   Countering Bias and Promoting Understanding, Tom Roderick, Educators for Social
    Responsibility, Metro
   Strategies for Incorporating Current Events Into Program Activities, Evie
    Hantzolpolus, Global Kids
   Building Bridges: Activities for Promoting Understanding Among Diversity, Kim
    Wiley, Project Ikat and TADA!
   “What do I say to kids, when I feel so uncertain about the world?”, Emily Newman,
    Interfaith Neighbors
   The Creative Bandage: Arts-Based Healing, Marygrace Berberian, PASE
   Islam: Myths and Realities – Helping Young People Understand, Fatima Sami,
    Muslims Against Terrorism
   Community Service = Community Action, Fresh Youth Initiatives

At both the Forum and at a Funder Breakfast held a week earlier, providers expressed
their concern for potential shortfalls in fundraising, both as a result of the recession that
was now exacerbated by the attacks, and also because the public was being so generous
in giving to the specialized September 11th funds. As early as October, many agencies
were reporting hiring freezes. Agencies wanted funders to appreciate the fact that their
expenses were going up as they implemented emergency program responses. Program
priorities included addressing the potential for or actual bias, dealing with the emotional
consequences of 9/11, creating community service opportunities for young people, and
learning about cultural diversity and Islam.

At the same time, many of the private foundations at the breakfast expressed a desire to
maintain or increase their commitment to youth programming, and made it a point to say
that this commitment was over and above any contributions they might have made or
might still make to specialized 9/11 funds (although this was likely not to be the case
with corporate funders). They also welcomed additional information about the



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challenges programs were facing. They wanted to know where the funding gaps were as
they grappled with how to strategically allocate their funds. Their overall message,
though, was clear. They did not feel that agencies had to propose new and different
activities in order to raise additional funds—they recognized the link between the “new”
crisis and the types of ongoing programs that youth programs typically implement.

Survey of 9/11 Impact on Youth Agencies: To gather more information, both for our
field as well as funders, we collaborated with Anita Baker, a well-respected program
evaluator who has worked with youth agencies for many years. She designed a survey
instrument, and PASE established a phone bank to gather the data. Data has been
collected from a cross-section of 292 agencies so far, with balanced representation from
all five boroughs. We will be gathering approximately 50 additional surveys to ensure a
representative sample. While the results are not final, the following are some of the
preliminary findings:

   19% of the agencies reported that a substantial number of their families were directly
    affected by the terrorist attacks. 15% of the agencies reported that many or most of
    their families lost family members, and 25% of the agencies reported that many or
    most of their families lost friends or significant others.

   One of every three agencies said that many or most of their clients experienced
    trauma from direct exposure to the events of September 11th. When asked if many or
    most of their clients were indirectly traumatized (through the media, for example),
    almost three-quarters said they were.

   The economic impact of the attacks was and is of great concern to families. The
    majority of agencies (57%) reported that many or most of their families faced
    probable job loss.

   Echoing what the media has reported, 23% of the agencies reported that many or
    most of their clients have been affected by an upsurge in bias incidents.

   One of the challenges to youth agencies is to address safety issues—35% report that
    this is somewhat or of major concern to their clients and staff.

Based on these data, it is easy to see why 56% of the agencies added support programs
(counseling, etc.), and why 61% of the agencies need additional funds to hire staff. In
looking six months ahead, the following are the major challenges that agencies identified:

   56% of the agencies feel the priority is to deal with the emotional fall out of the
    tragedy;
   45% indicate that addressing safety concerns is a priority; and
   31% cite bias concerns as a priority.

However, in moving forward, agencies indicate a number of key obstacles:




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   Especially during the first two months after the attacks, 23% of the agencies reported
    a temporary loss of staff, and 52% indicated staff had lost focus at work;
   The impact of the attacks on fundraising is great--71% of agencies report a definite
    loss in funding, with critical implications for programming. 56% of the agencies
    report a hiring freeze, and 41% reported laying off staff.

For these reasons, 66% of the agencies indicated that fund development is the priority
challenge for the next six months.

Profiling Youth Agency Responses: Beyond the survey, though, it is clear that many
youth agencies are responding to the crisis in creative ways, and these responses need to
be widely disseminated. The following are a few of many examples we are documenting:

Forest Hills Community House (FHCH): For several days following September 11th,
many schools and other public institutions were closed or operating at a minimal
capacity. Young people needed a place to go for the structure and normalcy that tells
them that things are going to be okay. FHCH remained open, and their young people
immediately began work to establish a sense of unity and peace in the community.
Throughout the agency, they were encouraged to become leaders by contributing to the
healing of their community in tangible ways, including:

   On September 12th, they were on the streets doing outreach and community
    mediation—as they’ve done for fifteen years.

   On Friday night, September 14th, young people at the Teen Center participated in the
    local candlelight vigils. They gathered 40 participants and by the end had over 100
    people marching around the Forest Hills Cooperative, the public housing project
    where the agency is located, back to the community house.

   Youth at FHCH’s Beacon program decided to turn their annual talent show, which
    brings in over 500 guests every year, into a benefit for the local volunteer ambulance
    corp.

   Alongside FHCH youth and staff, community members planted memorial trees at the
    annual Garden Party the agency holds for the residents of the Forest Hills
    Cooperative.

   Peer Counselors at FHCH were challenged by their supervisors to put together a
    workshop for the agency’s youth to talk about the impact that the catastrophic events
    of September 11th has had on them, and what their concerns are for the coming
    months and years.

South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!): SAYA! is a community-based organization in Queens
dedicated to empowering South Asian youth by providing opportunities for growth and
development, and by building cultural, social, and political awareness. For many young
people of color in New York City and across the country, particular those who are of



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Arab, South Asian or Middle Eastern descent, or who are Muslim, the weeks and months
following September 11th have been filled with fear and confusion, due to the direct and
subtle forms of bigotry and discrimination, and even harassment and assault that they
have faced. While many young people face these issues alone and with little support, the
youth that participate in the programs of SAYA! have a place to go that is supportive,
educational, with opportunities to make a difference. To support their own community
and educate others, SAYA! has engaged in many activities since September 11th,
including:

   In response to the predicament facing their youth, SAYA! hosted a Youth Speak Out
    on September 22nd to provide information and promote constructive dialogue and
    healing through discussion and artistic expression. The participants expressed the
    need for a comprehensive approach to program development that includes counseling,
    education, and community action.

   SAYA! has launched a Peace and Unity Initiative, a school-based series of inter-
    cultural dialogues and diversity workshops for youth and guidance counselors, and
    has begun to train South Asian youth as peer educators.

   Through the Internet, SAYA! is creating an international peace contract that links
    South Asian American youth with young people in their homelands and in other
    places of conflict around the world.

   SAYA!’s youth leadership groups have also taken the initiative to begin to develop
    educational videos and writing about tolerance, and they hope to organize a citywide
    Peace Conference next year.

Fresh Youth Initiatives (FYI): In the weeks following September 11th, everyone,
everywhere wanted to do something to help their communities, to help each other. FYI is
a place where kids go to do something for their community. It is a youth development
agency that supports and encourages the efforts of young people in Washington Heights
to design and carry out community service projects. September 11th gave new
importance to FYI’s mission of service and altruism. The kids at FYI knew that people
around the city were suffering and they wanted to do what they could to help. Here is a
sampling of what they did:

   Immediately after the 11th, FYI donated food and clothing from their food pantry to
    rescue workers.

   FYI held a series of student and parent discussion groups to clarify news and reports,
    debunk the myriad of myths that arose, address issues of trauma and stress, and to
    provide support for the community.

   Although the city had cancelled all street fairs after September 11th and the school
    district was bogged down with bomb threats, FYI gathered enormous support for its
    Community Service Serve-a-Thon Day on September 22nd. FYI’s Serve-a-Thon



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    brought together 400 volunteers and yielded over 1,000 hours of service in a 24-hour
    period. That day young people worked in community gardens, painted a church gym,
    and created a mural on a local school.

For providing such a meaningful venue for young people to express themselves and
contribute to their communities in a time of great calamity, the city declared September
22nd “FYI Day.”

Global Kids: The events of September 11th brought about a sudden interest in South and
Central Asia and the Middle East. Along with that wave of interest came an abundance of
public misperceptions and assumptions about what is happening in that area of the world.
Global Kids works to ensure that young people of diverse backgrounds have the knowledge,
skills, and experience they need to succeed in the workplace and participate in the shaping
of public policy and international relations. Global Kids programs incorporate leadership
development, academic enrichment and support, global education, peer education, social
action and teacher training. They offer interactive, cooperative workshops in and after
school.

In the aftermath of September 11th, Global Kids developed new initiatives, including:

   A six-session workshop module on a variety of topics including US foreign policy in
    the Middle East/Afghanistan region, Islam, children and war, refugees and anti-bias.

   Youth in Global Kids’ leadership programs facilitate workshops and began to
    organize their annual conference in March on these same issues.

   In January, Global Kids had a teach-in for youth at which they planned more in-depth
    workshops on foreign policy, bias and discrimination, and peace building.

As these program profiles indicate, the youth field is rich in creative responses to the
aftermath of September 11th. Since nobody has ever experienced an event like this,
innovation is the rule.

To disseminate innovation as quickly as possible, the need for and power of a peer
network is stronger than ever. To tap the skills and knowledge of individuals and
agencies within the network, PASE identified practitioners with expertise and began to
link them with agencies seeking help.

PASE’s Targeted Emergency Response: Just as PASE invited agencies to identify their
needs in light of the aftermath to September 11th, we also invited agencies and individuals
to identify their own skills and areas of expertise that might be offered to others. Our
past experience has been that often agencies and individuals are slow to recognize the
value of their know-how to others, and on the flip side, often agencies have difficulty
articulating exactly what their need for outside assistance is. PASE therefore created a
series of venues, in each borough, that brought diverse groups of providers together, to




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discuss the priority issues they were addressing and what they’d like to put in place as a
response.

Community Exchanges: We called these venues Community Exchanges, and in
November and December, PASE partnered with local community-based organizations to
host them in each borough. These events were an opportunity for youth workers to come
together to share their stories about what they were dealing with since September 11th, as
well as to receive and share resources. Each event had it’s own flavor, based on the
community agency that co-hosted. At some, panelists shared their experiences with the
group, while at others participants were led in conflict resolution exercises. At every
exchange, there were several facilitators who led small group discussions on subjects
including safety procedures, anti-bias activities, Islam, and global issues. The partner
organizations that hosted the Community Exchanges were:

   New York Center for Interpersonal Development, Staten Island
   Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, Queens
   Pius XII North Bronx Family Services, Bronx
   Project Reach Youth, Brooklyn
   Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, Upper Manhattan
   Henry Street Settlement, Lower Manhattan:

Matching Resources and Needs: At each Community Exchange, we invited groups to
sign up to receive assistance from outside experts, and/or to identify themselves as an
expert with a skill to offer others. We then targeted emergency responses, creating
matches, looking to link those with areas of expertise that fit the needs of those
requesting help.

An agency can request up to 12 hours of emergency response assistance:

   Specialized training or technical assistance to work directly with youth program staff,
    young people, or families;
   Support for hosting a youth forum, parent meeting, or community event intended to
    strengthen their ability to positively respond to the aftermath of September 11th; and
   Access to and dissemination of resource information and materials.

Agencies can request services in a range of content areas including: anti-bias, counseling,
community service, youth leadership, conflict resolution, cultural and religious diversity,
fund development, safety procedures, understanding Islam, and working with parents.
The following are three examples of the types of emergency support agencies are
providing and receiving:

Arab American Family Support Center and East Harlem Tutorial Program: The youth
programs run by the Arab American Family Support Center in Brooklyn have been
overwhelmed, with renewed demand for services in recent months. Because the Arab-
American community has been so affected by the current crisis, PASE is providing them
with the range of supports they need to serve the community more effectively, including



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school outreach (a significant number of families were not sending their children to
school out of fear), tutoring, and literacy.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Global Kids: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum youth
programs have been facing ongoing bias issues among their kids since September 11th.
To deal with this, they are exploring issues of diversity and multiculturalism. But in
order to be effective, the program staff need to learn how to facilitate activities,
particularly with a global perspective. Global Kids is a program that has a long standing
history in this type of work, so they will be working with both the young people and staff
of the museum’s programs to help them develop the capacity to continue this type of
education on their own.

NYC Department of Youth and Community Development Youthline and Interfaith Neighbors:
The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s Youthline is a hotline,
staffed by high school and college students, who need to be prepared to field telephone
calls on many issues, including diversity, prevention, and community service. Since
September 11th, the young people and staff of Youthline have confronted a range of
unfamiliar issues, including feelings of bereavement and trauma. Interfaith Neighbors
has been running programs that deal with these issues for years, and after September 11th,
they created The Peace of Mind Project. Interfaith will be providing Youthline with
Peace of Mind workshops to help prepare the young people.

PASE has developed a roster of consultants with expertise in the range of priority content
areas to call upon for providing training or technical assistance. Some of the agencies
represented on our roster list include: Muslims Against Terrorism, Interfaith Neighbors,
Global Kids, ENACT, Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, Educators for Social
Responsibility, Metro, Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, Henry Street Settlement,
Project Reach Youth, and Safe Horizons.

How does the process work? An agency completes a request form identifying the content
areas and audience for which they are seeking services. PASE conducts a phone intake
with the site to understand the context for the request, its relationship to September 11th,
and determine the appropriate consultant. Following the intake, PASE creates a match,
and after a work plan is completed, the work begins. We are asking that sites evaluate
the assistance they receive.

A brochure advertising the availability of this assistance was mailed to the PASE mailing
list (approximately 1,700 people) before the holidays and we posted the information on
our web site. We have also been making personalized telephone calls to agencies,
prioritizing geographic areas that appear to have been hit the hardest: lower Manhattan,
Washington Heights, and Staten Island.

To date, PASE has received about 70 requests from all five boroughs for assistance.
Requests have varied but common themes have emerged. Agencies are interested in the
areas of cultural and religious diversity, conflict resolution, safety procedures, and fund
development.



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Youth Connecting To Youth Hotline: To augment the identification of priority needs and
responses on the part of youth agencies, a second strategy we launched seeks to include
youth in both identifying needs and creating solutions. We call this aspect of the overall
initiative, “Youth Connecting To Youth, “ and its purpose is threefold:

   Assessing: To capture the voices of young people as they reflect on how the aftermath
    of September 11th has impacted their lives, including their connection to afterschool
    youth programs.

   Visioning: In light of what has occurred, what do young people say is needed to
    strengthen the supports that they draw on during the afterschool hours.

   Connecting: What actions can this project take over the next few months or in the
    longer term that will support the connections young people say are needed.

Towards these ends, PASE is collaborating with five youth agencies: New York Center
for Individual Development (Staten Island), Project Reach Youth (Brooklyn), Jacob Riis
Neighborhood Settlement (Queens), Pius XII North Bronx Family Service Center
(Bronx), and The Valley (Manhattan). Each agency will both give and receive support as
part of this project:

What agencies receive:
 Agency stipend to cover staff time and expenses;
 Training for agency teams (supervisor and team of three young people);
 A tool kit of resource materials, including a youth-to-youth survey;
 Opportunities to visit and network with youth from other organizations; and
 Opportunities to capture and articulate how the field of youth development might
  better support and connect youth to youth.

What agencies give:
 Team of three young people and a supervising staff member:
 Time to attend two training sessions and occasional meetings;
 Teams conduct outreach to area agencies and conduct youth discussion groups and
  youth surveys; and
 Teams will seek to connect youth to events and/or programs through telephone calls
  and other methods to be identified.

This project is planned for a 12-week period, from late January to late April, with two
mandatory trainings scheduled (Saturday, January 26 and Thursday, January 31).

PASE will provide each agency with a list of youth agencies for outreach purposes.
Agency teams will schedule and conduct visits to these agencies, meeting with youth,
over the course of the 12 weeks, conducting youth surveys, and gathering and
disseminating information according to the training that they receive. We estimate that




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25 programs will be visited by each of the five participating agencies, and we will reach
approximately 1,500 youth in this fashion.

To best capture the insights of young people, a variety of methods will be used, including
photography, video, audio, art work, and written materials. These may be shared with a
wider audience of young people and youth agencies (and other interested parties) through
exhibitions, the PASE website, or other venues that may be created.

Conclusion

The September 11th attacks created enormous emotional and social wounds in New York
City. The atmosphere has been saturated with fear, heightened feelings of vulnerability,
loss, and uncertainty. This situation tears at the fabric of New York’s multi-ethnic
communities, undermines recognition of the positive value of diversity, and places youth
and children at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators in the cycle of ethnic violence.
At the same time, this is a tremendous opportunity to respond to young people’s desire to
express themselves, to serve their communities, to reach out and better understand other
cultures and religions—to foster healing, intercultural understanding, tolerance, and
community solidarity. Towards these ends, PASE has been facilitating the sharing of
resources among youth agencies, surfacing, making more visible, and disseminating
innovative response strategies, and mobilizing young people to create positive solutions
to the needs of their peers.




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