YWCA Hamilton’s new RISE Collective helps amplify youth voices in the community

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Are you a young person passionate about making change, building your skills, and connecting with your community?

The RISE Collective needs you!

YWCA Hamilton is excited to launch this new program for young women, gender-fluid, and non-binary youth in Hamilton.

This no-cost program, with support from YWCA Canada and the Government of Canada, aims to foster Hamilton’s next generation of activists and community leaders. The RISE Collective will offer events, workshops, art classes and movement practices, aimed at empowering youth to make change in their community.

We asked the RISE Collective program coordinator, Ja’miil Millar, to speak more about the program, her goals, and why it’s important to for youth voices to be heard.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Can you tell me a little bit about the RISE Collective?

The age demographic that we’re focusing on is 15 to 30, so a lot of the programming that we’re going to do is going to appeal to the different needs of that age demographic. The purpose of it is to center and amplify the voices of young women, gender-fluid, and non-binary youth in Hamilton specifically. The essence of it is going to be youth-led, so in terms of the planning and execution, the events and workshops are going to be determined by the youth that are a part of the collective.

What sort of events will the RISE collective feature?

The opportunities are endless. But my vision for it as the coordinator is to have events, workshops with different leaders or amplifiers in the community, art, and movement. We want to have a really holistic program that touches on a bunch of different things. That approach was intentional in terms of having a “something for everyone” type of program – so maybe if you’re not an arts person, but you enjoy moving your body, there’s something for you in this program, and you can help inform and create it.

A photo of Ja'Miil Millar smiling and sitting in a stairwell.
Ja’miil Millar is the program director for the RISE Collective.

What are you hoping that people will learn from the RISE Collective?

A lot of the focus is going to be on giving youth the opportunity to engage with their community by leading civic engagement activities and building leadership capacity – so, essentially giving youth the opportunity to see themselves in the community. We are a part of the community, and we deserve to inform the civic direction that we want things to go.

The goal is really to be change-leaders in our community, and I think that looks a variety of ways. That “something-for-everyone” approach allows youth to bring their leadership style to the table where it’s at. Maybe you’re not the type of person to speak to a room of people, but you have strategy behind the scenes. I want to be able to connect youth with their strengths and amplify them by putting on events that allow them to practice those things.

Why do you think it’s important to amplify youth voices?

Youth can often feel overlooked in big conversations, when it comes to the direction at the council level, for example, or the direction that their community is going. It’s important to reiterate that youth are a part of the community. As someone who also fits into this demographic, it’s important for me to see the youth that are part of this collective as my peers and work together to dream big and inform our community. We all have visions, whether it’s our personal vision or for the community as a whole, and that’s something that needs to be fostered and supported.

Thank you so much, Ja’miil!

Anyone interesting in learning more about the RISE Collective can get in touch with Ja’miil at JMillar@ywcahamilton.org or (905) 522-9922 ext. 134.

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