Semester: Spring 2023
Faculty Advisor: Darlyne Bailey & Gwenn Prinbeck
Field Site: Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)
Field Supervisor: Felix Rosado
Praxis Poster:Palmer Jones_Praxis Poster_Final
After being placed with Healing Futures in a praxis class a previous semester, I wanted to continue my involvement and co-created an Independent Study. Healing Futures is Philadelphia’s first youth-focused pre-charge diversion program, tackling youth incarceration. Through Healing Futures, I gained more trust and confidence in myself by facilitating Restorative Community Conferences, which are the last step in a restorative justice process when a young person causes harm to someone else in the community. Following the Circle Process, derived from indigenous practice, the person harmed, responsible youth, and invested community members gather together to address the harm caused. Together, we create a Restorative Plan for the responsible youth that aims to resolve the harm to the best of their ability whilst instilling confidence in the community’ ability to resolve conflict without problematic interference. My role also consisted of running weekly workshops in preparation for the conference as well as skill development in my administrative abilities including, note-taking and record keeping.
My experience working with the organization, community, and youth has helped shape me into a more informed and motivated individual. I found that my engagement with the program encouraged me to better myself so that I could continue being supportive despite the harsh realities I witnessed. In relation to my major, I believe we cannot have environmental justice without having individuals who want to see such justice be carried out. “Empowered people empower people” is a phrase I found myself repeating often. By empowering youth to take accountability for the harm they cause (rather than villainizing and punishing them), they build trust in themselves and others and become reacquainted with what it means to be in a community, and are thus better positioned to be mindful of how they interact with the environment.
Trying youth as adults and their resulting displacement from their communities due to the corrupt juvenile court system can be metaphorically compared to seeds trying to grow in bad soil. When a seed is not sprouting, it is more likely that the soil in which it is trying to root is not sufficient, rather than being a faulty seed. Just as the polluted soil can stunt the growth and development of seeds, the injustice system can hinder their growth and development. This can result in long-term negative consequences, including the perpetuation of poverty, crime, and social inequality. To address this issue, we must work to remove the toxins from the soil and provide the necessary resources and support for youth to grow and flourish. This involves addressing the root causes of systemic racism and disempowerment in society, investing in community-based programs and services, and reforming the juvenile justice system to ensure that it provides a rehabilitative and restorative approach to justice for all youth.