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I Love My Life Campaign / Life Camp Inc

I Love My Life / Life Camp Inc / 2007-2009

Student Leader

LIFE Camp, Inc. (Love Ignites Freedom through Education) started its violence prevention work in schools in 2002, and was incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization in 2006. LIFE Camp was formed following the tragic killings of two New York City children, seven year-old Daesean Hill from Brooklyn and fifteen year-old Taquan ‘Cheese’ Jackson. These deaths inspired a group of local young people to change their lives and LIFE Camp was the vehicle created to help them. LIFE Camp’s successful high school attendance and behavior improvement program achieved major social credibility with youth participants, who as a result pressured the program’s founder and well-known social justice activist, Erica Ford, to develop an after school and weekend program for their peers and families.

I Love My Life Campaign

Engages young people in finding new ways to end old problems. In response to some of the violent acts among young people within NYC LIFE built a marketing/branding movement of young people. These young people are a vehicle for social change. The I Love My LIFE Tour uses diverse tools to get youth engaged and motivated to Love their LIFE and Bring an End to Senseless Violence! Below are the organizations we bring to help our vehicle run.

  Tangible Outcomes

  • Partnered with over 10 non-profit organizations
  • Spoke with over 10,000 young people across New York City
  • Coordinated over 5 Events with over 3000 total in attendance
  • Received major media coverage by NYC’s Hot 97, Power 105.1 and KISS FM

Comparable Course

Social Justice and the Wire  

RELS, 3.0 credits               Loyola University New Orleans

The single most dominant theme of Catholic teaching in the 20th century is the problem of structural injustice. This course examines one aspect of this theme by working through David Simon’s HBO series The Wire, acclaimed by many critics as the best show ever to appear on television. Readings from Church documents and contemporary authors will be used to help tease out key themes from the series, and the vividness The Wire’s portrayal will be used to illustrate breathe life into the central concerns of social justice. This course will evolve as Treme, the quasi-sequel to The Wire that takes the same approach to New Orleans that The Wire took to Baltimore, begins filming during the semester.

Corresponding Texts

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah

Book Review

While some of the most powerful gifts in hip hop used their celebrity to bring awareness to the plight of inner city living, this raw, passionate form of expression from “The Coldest Winter Ever” was often so captivating that the message of dire community need was often lost in the power and ironic beauty of the art form.  “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sister Souljah took hip-hop and urban culture by storm. Published by Simon and Schuster, this book was dubbed a best seller. Artist across the country sang praises. Sean “P.Diddy” Combs noted that Sister Soujah was “The #1 Author Of The Hip Hop Generation.” The commercial appeal of this book was due heavily to Sister Souljah’s strong roots within the urban community and her influence within hip-hop culture at the time. A powerful youth and community activist and public speaker, Souljah was regarded by hip-hop fans and purveyors of the culture as a raw, honest voice that was both uplifting to the community and radically challenging to mainstream America. Thus her book was embrace by urban communities who felt that they were being “put on the map” in mainstream literary form. To be acknowledged, have a “voice: by any means in the hip-hop community was what it was all about. Her use of vivid language intertwined with the hip-hop subculture portrayed in her character’ style of dress and social activities created straightforward pictures in readers’ minds that still allows these characters to live in the hearts of reader’s decades later.

Themes, Topics, Skills

“I came busting into the world during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, so my mother named me Winter. Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, and business-minded, she knows and loves the streets like the curves of her own body. But when a cold Winter wind blows her life in a direction she doesn’t want to go, her street smarts and seductive skills are put to the test of a lifetime. Unwilling t o lose, this ghetto girl will do anything to stay on top”. (Back Cover)

Assessment and Implementation

The market of these urban literature books have been targeted to females ages 14-34. Women are the transmitters of culture; therefore, the impact these books have made is a vast change in culture, urban youth culture in particular. They have gotten young women specifically reading when they thought there was nothing for them to read. In countless books young women are the main characters so I think there is a sense of entitlement it gives the readers. Despite the violence, explicit language and content it has gotten young people to actually pick up a book with is the first step that will hopefully inspire them to pick up others. Within this campaign this book was very relevant. The characters were relatable and a lot of the youth had read the book. From reading the book and participating in the campaign I created a separate project around how this type of literature can be the springboard for getting other young people involved. The Coldest Winter Ever like The Wire shows how due to environmental circumstances young people can be faced with various situations than can lead them to death or jail. The campaign demonstrated what was happening in urban communities not just in NYC but also across the US, and what action can be taken to reduce it.

Freedom Dreams by Robin D.G. Kelley

Book Review

The fight for freedom occurs in the mind, is the essential premise. Freedom Dreams written by historian Robin D.G. Kelley creates a unique and utopian discussion around the past and Black Radical dreamers. He tells a collection of stories and visions of people such as Malcolm X, C. L. R. James and Aime Cesaire. The areas discussed are the Importance of imagination, Surrealism, radical feminism, and Jim Crow. By the end of the book you will be inspired to use your “third eye” and imagine new worlds while living in the contradictions of this one.

Themes, Topics, Skills

“Unfortunately, too often our standards for evaluating social movements pivot around whether or not they “succeeded” in realizing their visions rather than on the merits or power of the visions themselves. By such a measure, virtually every radical movement failed because the basic power relations they sought to change remain pretty much intact. And yet it is precisely these alternative visions and dreams that inspire new generations to continue to struggle for change: (Page viiii)

Assessment and Implementation

This book assisted with inspiring young people and letting them know that they could create the possibilities they want if they use their imagination. What was interesting while using this text was that so many of the youth though that using your imagination was supposed to stop while a child. It was a beautiful process of them sharing what their utopia would consist of, and putting into practice what can happen if only we used our “third eye” more often. The stories around what various black revolutionary leaders created within a grassroots organization was motivation for myself and the other youth in fighting to have our voices heard around this subject matter.

Testimonials

“Syreeta is a great student. She understands the importance of knowledge and does not allow barriers to hold her back or stagnate her growth….. The World Better Watch Out Cause Syreeta is definitely going to Take Over!! 

If you run in to her give her the knowledge she needs to surpass us all…..she deserves it!!”  Erica Ford / CEO, Life Camp Inc

For more information about this project or organization please visit: http://www.lifecampinc.com

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