NAFC’s Youth Group Kicks off With Acts of Kindness.

On Saturday, March 30, eleven students from grades 5-8th gathered in the Maker’s Space at C. H. Booth Library for the first meeting of Newtown Allies For Change Youth Group. These young students are local Newtown residents who are interested in making the community a more inclusive and welcoming space for all people.

Local resident, Christine Miller, launched this group as an opportunity for young people to follow the model and leadership of Newtown Allies for Change. It is meant to be a safe space to learn, discuss issues and promote kindness and inclusion in our schools and community. Miller hopes that this group will be equal parts fun, education and service. 

The group began with a reading of the NAFC land acknowledgment. NAFC reads the acknowledgment before meetings and events to remind participants that the land which we are using in Newtown was stolen from the Pootatuck Tribe, a subgroup of the Paugussett Nation. This land acknowledgment is used to help honor the original stewards of the land and acknowledge their presence in the history of Newtown.

After the land acknowledgment, Miller led the group in a discussion about what DEI entails and what it means to be an ally. Both concepts are complex and often misunderstood by adults, so Miller presented age-appropriate definitions for this group of 10-14 year olds, making the ideas easier to understand and implement: 

Diversity: Seeing and accepting, without bias, all human characteristics, experiences and identities that make us unique as individuals and members of cultures and communities.

Equity: Discovering, creating and providing what is required, requested and measured by each person to feel equal.

Inclusion: Ensuring that everyone is invited to contribute, be seen, be heard, feel valued and be counted in a way that is safe and makes sense for them.

The students also learned that being an ally is a journey and requires action and not passivity. While saying you accept all people regardless of what they believe, identify as, or look like is good thing, being an ally means actively advocating for DEI to help make our schools and community more inclusive.

As a service project, the students decorated paper shopping bags with kind messages and decorations. These bags were delivered to local grocery stores as a free gift to shoppers who may have forgotten their reusable bags. The bags were a way for NAFC Youth to practice inclusion by offsetting the cost to shoppers while also encouraging recipients to treat one another with kindness and respect.

The next meeting of the NAFC Youth Group will meet on April 27th at 11:00am. New members are always welcome! Follow Newtown Allies for Change on Facebook for future announcements.