From the Weingart East Los Angeles Y – Last Saturday, April 11th their Immigrant Youth Program, “Know Your Roots” began the implementation of their teen-led project by ensuring that street vendors had access to vaccinations by providing outreach, education and opportunities for enrollment. Y-teens were not alone in the process this weekend, they received support from their local council district to plan the outreach and had Congressman Jimmy Gomez and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago join them while they were out on the beat. Our teens were able to canvass areas with many street vendors off of Cesar Chavez and Soto and El Mercadito in Boyle Heights to get the word out. Posts capturing the event from Miguel Santiago’s twitter here and from Jimmy Gomez’ Twitter here.
Our Y teens (mostly Youth & Government & Teens & Government Y-members) identified this effort because street vendors are amongst our most vulnerable populations. Often times criminalized and assaulted for trying to make a living – our teens are working on correcting some of these harms by creating pathways for our street vendors to be vaccinated. By removing language and technological barriers, YMCA youth leaders are increasing the amount of folks that are vaccinated and simplifying the process. Our street vendor population is made up of many undocumented immigrants, many of them are unsure whether to receive the vaccine because they don’t want their citizenship status exposed. In engaging in these vaccination efforts, we are working on building trust with street vendors and assuring that they don’t need to prove citizenship status to get the vaccine. If we continue to be intentional with our efforts and we can get our most marginalized communities vaccinated, it will ultimately be beneficial to all in ensuring that we are one step closer to eradicating this virus.
Special thanks to Mark Helm, Chair of the Y’s Teen Development Committee, for encouraging and supporting these innovative programs! These programs are being developed by branch program staff and correlate directly with their local community needs.