What Is The Youth MOVE Change Initiative?
The Youth MOVE Change Initiative is a program designed to enhance and expand the peer workforce. With a specific intention to work in the field of mental health to address the unique needs of youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth. In partnership with the Upswing Fund, this initiative is designed to mitigate systemic challenges in barriers to care, reduce stigma around mental health, and provide education to youth and families. With this project, Youth MOVE National is putting together a Youth Advisory Council, a Fellowship Program, and a training schedule to increase the skills of the peer workforce!
The Youth MOVE Change Initiative offers a pathway for BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) and LGBTQIA2-S+ youth and young adults with lived experience. This new initiative culminates the future youth peer support workforce and recognizes the importance of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ policy contributions and advocacy on strategies to enhance or change systems. Youth and young adults will have access to Youth MOVE’s Youth Peer Support model training, subject matter expert coaching, as well as professional development opportunities.
Amara Ifeji –
Amara (She/Her) is a 19-year old climate justice activist and advocate for equitable access to the outdoors for ALL youth. Her barriers to access to environmental learning drove her to lead community science learning efforts and conduct internationally awarded climate change research. Through her efforts with the Maine Environmental Education Association, she strives to empower a network of over 400+ youth environmental activists in the Maine Environmental Changemakers Network. Amara also pushes for both state and federal environmental education policy reform through her roles with the Nature-Based Education Consortium and the Maine Climate Council Equity Subcommittee. In recognition of her work, she was recently awarded the National Geographic Young Explorer Award–one of only 24 youth in the world.
Louie Gasper –
Louie (He/Him) currently works as a Media Monitoring & Analytics Intern, and has previously worked as a Production Intern at NBC News with “Meet the Press.” Prior to that, Louie was a Marketing Intern for C-SPAN, where he created a marketing strategy and database for outreach to three thousand alternative media outlets. From 2016 – 2018, Louie managed communications and strategic planning efforts as the Director of Promotions & Outreach for KAOS Community Radio (89.3 FM). As a writer, Louie was a News and Features Writing Fellow for The Evergreen State College, Office of Marketing & Communications. Later in college, he worked as a Writing Fellow for the Independent Journal Review (IJR), where he conducted political research to publish over 170 articles covering national politics. In 2020, Louie was a Contributing Writer for The Yucatan Times and is currently a Journalism Institute Fellow for POLITICO. Louie’s professional experience stems from his time as an advocate in child welfare. From 2011 – 2016, Louie served the organization, California Youth Connection (CYC) in the capacities of a facilitator, trainer, chapter president, legislative committee representative, and policy committee representative. In college, he continued child welfare systems reform work as a Chapter Leader for The Mockingbird Society, All-Star Intern for FosterClub, Consultant for Think of Us, and as a member of the International Foster Care Alliance (IFCA) and the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI). He is currently a Young Adult Consultant with the Capacity Building Center for States, where he assists jurisdictions in strategic planning and implementation for communications, race equity, and youth engagement.
Nakiya Lynch –
Nakiya (They/Them) is a 22-year-old genderqueer person, lesbian and self-described “fire cracker.” They are passionate, direct, outgoing and known for their interesting fashion choices and bright green hair. Lynch is ardent about pressing for inclusivity and intersectionality in Black and LGBTQ spaces. Through their advocacy, they hope to teach LGBTQ youth and parents of LGBTQ youth about important topics including sexual health — especially in their hometown of Prince George’s County, Maryland, where they feel these topics are not well-addressed in schools and community services. When they’re not scrolling through Twitter, spending time with friends or at their job at the local Department of Social Services, they can be found at a rally or at an event speaking on behalf of queer foster youth. They love to laugh almost as much as they love justice and making sure everyone has equal access to resources, support and community inclusivity.