Advocates, youth and members of the public gathered this weekend at Exchange Park in Decatur, Ga. to celebrate a year of progress toward juvenile code reform in Georgia.
VOX Teen Communications hosted the barbecue along with a coalition of youth-focused non-profits that have concentrated on making proposed changes to Georgia’s Juvenile Code a reality. JUSTGeorgia, EmpowerMEnt, the Sapelo Foundation and VOX Teen Communications have formed a mesh of alliances to give youth a voice in matters that affect them and advocate for the first changes in the Children’s Code in more than four decades.
An initiative started by Giovan Bazan and Octavia Fugerson at VOX Teen Communications more than a year ago sought to collect the voices of youth from around the state who were directly affected by the juvenile or foster care systems. The series generated such a positive response it was pursued by EmpowerMEnt and spearheaded by Bazan and other youth leaders after the founders aged-out of work at VOX.
The goal is to present the voices of Georgia’s youth to state lawmakers as they take up the juvenile code rewrite in 2012. While the individual stories are powerful, EmpowerMEnt staffers hope delivering them in a cohesive package will be enough of a jolt to spur the first rewrite since 1971.
VOX – Atlanta’s only city-wide newspaper created by teens for teens – doesn’t advocate for specific issues, but focuses on giving teens an outlet to express themselves about issues that concern them.