Youth Development

Coffee with a Cop!

On Wednesday, South Boston CAN SummerWorks teens enjoyed donuts with our local police officers.

Thanks, Captain Greland and the officers of District C-6!

Coffee with a cop 2014

Mayor Walsh: All 1st Responders Will Carry Narcan

Members of the drug prevention and treatment community in Boston, including Kay Walsh of South Boston CAN Reduce Underage Drinking, stood with Mayor Marty Walsh at South Boston Police Station District C-6 yesterday as he announced that the Boston Public Health Commission will train Boston police officers and firefighters to use Narcan — the opioid overdose reversal medication — so that all first responders in the city will have access to the medication. Full story here.


Click here to watch a Narcan demonstration by Sarah Mackin of the Boston Public Health Commission AHOPE Program.

BPHC Narcan

Globe coverage of Summit for Change

We’re thrilled with the Globe article on our Summit!

After a rocky year, South Boston Collaborative hosts “Summit for Change”

By Cara Bayles, Town Correspondent

About 50 youth, street workers, and advocates are expected to converge on the Laboure Center in South Boston on Saturday for a day of workshops and discussion about empowering teenagers.

The “Summit for Change,” once known as the “Youth Summit,” started after the South Boston Collaborative Advisory Network won a federal substance-abuse prevention grant in 2004. Originally envisioned as a retreat for the South Boston Youth Council, it soon drew a larger coalition of youth-driven community activist groups who gathered to dissect a neighborhood issue.

This year’s summit comes after a rough year, according to Nicole Young, project coordinator for the collaborative’s youth assets taskforce, who says her program did not see the federal grant it had relied on for five years renewed in 2009. The network reapplied, and received another five-year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant in September, but the lack of funding over the last year took a toll.

“It was extremely difficult,” Young said. “A lot of direct programming slowed down, and we couldn’t offer as many jobs to the youth.”

The group was kept afloat by fund raising and support from ABCD’s South Boston Action Center. They partnered with South Boston CAN Reduce Underage Drinking for that year’s summit.

Kay Walsh, project coordinator for CAN, said youth activism is important in South Boston, which is home to several politically savvy and strong agencies, that traditionally didn’t hear from the neighborhood’s youth. She added that fostering positive connections between teens was important to her group’s mission.

“Frequently the kids in South Boston are faced with huge, enormous adult problems,” Walsh said. “Very few kids in South Boston haven’t dealt with a friend that’s either overdosed or committed suicide. When they’re looking for help or support, the first person they go to is another South Boston kid.”

The South Boston Youth Council, a group of about 10 teen activists, are the driving force behind the youth summit.

For Nicole Meeken and Tony Maiullari, both 19, the outreach and organizing they’ve done are not only about the issues themselves, but shifting perceptions about Southie’s youths.

“Just hanging out with friends from other places, when I say I’m from South Boston, they’ll say, ‘Oh you must be one of those kids who drops out of high school and doesn’t care, and eventually starts doing drugs because that’s what everyone does in Southie,’” Meeken said. “At the youth council, we just try to get kids together to come to try and come up with positive images, and say, yeah, South Boston has it’s problems, but there are some positive things in it, and you don’t have to be a product of your environment, necessarily.”

“As a group we’ve been in the community and getting our faces out there to everybody on the street,” said Maiullari. “It’s also a great way to voice your opinion and move on to what we accomplish.”

In the past, the summit has focused on a specific issue—like environmentalism and greening Southie, or substance abuse among teens—but this year’s summit will focus on organizing skills rather than one issue.

“One teen might want to discuss environmental issues, or violence, and someone else might say, ‘I think substance abuse or domestic violence should be the focus.’ There are so many things the kids are passionate about and want to change,” Young said. “We didn’t want that change to depend on what the federal grant or the health center felt was important. We wanted to say, here are the skills. If you have the skills to start any change in the community, then you can. “