It is often said that youth are tomorrow’s leaders. At NCCJ, we know that youth are leaders today, and we engage them as change agents for justice and equity now. Through our youth programs, we challenge adultism—the systemic devaluation and underestimation of young people—which stands in the way of their healthy self-regard, their development as leaders, and strong partnerships between youth and adults for community change.
NCCJ St. Louis’s Anytown Youth Leadership Institute has been developing young change agents for social justice from schools across Missouri & Illinois since 1992. The program is informed by what works in social justice education and positive youth development, bringing delegates together for eight days of powerful, intensive learning about diversity, about society, and about themselves.
After nearly twenty years of making “allies” at Anytown, the ALLY program was launched in 2010. An extension of Anytown, ALLY (or, Aligning and Leveraging Leadership in Youth) supports delegates as they translate their motivation to make change—gained at Anytown—into the real world. ALLY participants learn and practice communication and dialogue facilitation skills, hone and speak their voice on social justice issues through forms of creative expression (Speak Out poetry slam, Photovoice exhibit), and find support from others who are working to make justice and inclusion a reality in our community.
Saint Louis Public Radio (March 20, 2014):
Commentary: What The Region Can Learn From the Missouri Civic Health Index by Robert A. Cropf
"An important part of civil society is group membership.…The Anytown Youth Leadership Institute is a program for youth interested in making their high school and community environments more socially just."