Prince George's County Teens Learn to Advocate at Library ‘Social Justice Camp'

Libraries throughout Prince George's County, Maryland, held social justice camps this summer aimed at teaching students how to advocate for themselves and improve their communities

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High school students who are interested in creating change in their communities are learning how to advocate for what they want in Prince George's County, Maryland.

The Prince George's County Memorial Library System hosted a "Social Justice Camp" series this summer to help students develop their passions.

“Yes, we're kids, but we can also make a big change just as much as adults,” 9th grade student Taylor Tibbs said at a Social Justice Camp at the Hyattsvilel Branch Library on Tuesday.

“We had a lot of teens that were very interested in getting active in their community, especially over the pandemic they were trying to figure out, 'How can I get involved? How can I make change happen?'” said Isaiah West, a teen services specialist for the library system.

Teens participated in different social justice exercises, such as learning team building by constructing a paper bridge in small groups. West said this helps the students try to solve problems, such as those they may face with limited resources.

Other exercises helped students learn how to research, network and identify their passions.

“I'm definitely into women's rights, mainly the abortion like with the recent Roe v. Wade [reversal],” Tibbs said.

“I chose gun reform, and school safety and stuff like that because it's been happening a lot lately,” 10th grader Sam Fufa said.

Once students identified their focus, West said they then created a plan to take their ambitions out into the real world.

“We've seen some social media campaigns happen and we've seen people interested in holding sit-ins in their schools or we have a couple that are interested in community art projects,” West said.

During the weeklong camps, students have learned to better their communities and, in some cases, like for 12th grader and public library intern Ayda Girma, find direction.

“I need to major in the environmental studies, like, policy-making,” Girma said.

There were five social justice camps held this summer at various libraries, and the county plans to continue the camps next summer.

For details about the other programs the county libraries offer, visit the Prince George's County Memorial Library System website.

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