June 20 2017

In case you missed it, Jacky Vargas just completed her race for Mayor of Los Angeles. And her plan focused on getting more youth involved in their own development was inspiring.

In her first 100 days, the Boyle Heights candidate said she would lead the development of a city-wide Youth Development Task Force, allocate new resources to the City’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development to create safe and supportive spaces for youth and curb youth arrests and negative encounters with law enforcement.

Oh and she’s only seventeen years old.

Jacky is one of dozens of youth leaders involved with Building Healthy Communities (BHC) in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights community. BHC is The California Endowment’s 10-year, $1 billion initiative to revitalize democracy in 14 underserved communities across the state. Through investing in community organizing, BHC strives to inspire a new way of thinking among local and state policies–to ensure that health impacts and outcomes are not overlooked.

While her race for mayor was fictitious, Jacky’s campaign and its issues are very real for Los Angeles youth and all Californians. In a recent Twitter townhall, Jacky and Boyle Heights BHC opened a dialogue about some of her major platform points.

“Jacky is one of our great youth leaders, and she’s doing an amazing job of sharing a message that so many of our youth are advocating for in their own ways,” said Joel Perez, BHC Communications Coordinator.

“Youth should have a seat at the table”

Jacky Vargas wants young people to be included in the creation of a proposed Youth Development Department: “It only makes sense, youth should have a seat at the table. We can add our unique perspectives when it comes to developing solutions for supporting our own growth.” Along with nonprofit leaders and city government officials, the department would tackle issues like youth incarceration, and create access to safe spaces for social-emotional development.

“Los Angeles can and must do more to support its youth”

Jacky is very clear: “Los Angeles can and must do more to support its youth.” The City of Los Angeles lags in youth investment behind its peer cities, spending less than New York and its neighbor to the north, San Francisco. Her platform calls for $10 million in the 2017-18 City budget to be allocated for the Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development to fund community-based and informed programs that create or sustain 50 “safe, supportive, nurturing spaces” for youth and enhance programming across the City. The program would be advised by the Youth Development Task Force.

“The Jacky4Mayor campaign is yet another example of the work BHC is doing across its sites to engage youth, make intergenerational connections and promote investments in California’s future,” said Perez. Developing a shared vision for community health, ensuring youth live in health-promoting communities and lowering the risk of negative impacts with law enforcement were identified as key outcomes at the outset of the Building Healthy Communities initiative.

While Jacky’s campaign for mayor is over, BHC youth across the state continue to fight for a seat at the table when it comes to their own development, and their fight goes on.

Keep up with Jacky’s campaign for youth investment online at http://www.jackyformayor.com/

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