connect / 2021
Voices is a story-sharing project which will encourage youth to engage with elders. The project, with both audio and visual elements, will help raise awareness around issues in the community, while building and strengthening intergenerational social networks. At the most basic level, storytelling is a way of keeping a community's stories alive. In this second installation of our Voices project, we will be expanding to focus on specific hard to reach elderly groups and communities within the neighborhood.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- East LA
- City of Los Angeles
- Other:: Boyle Heights
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Boyle Heights is a neighborhood in East Los Angeles with nearly 100,000 residents. Sixty-two percent of residents are low-income, with 62% also having limited English proficiency. Over the past decade, Boyle Heights Beat has catered to much of the community’s need for information in Spanish by producing a bilingual print newspaper, website and podcast. This need has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 Pandemic, where limited information has been readily available to the Spanish speaking population. WIth disproportionately high numbers of COVID cases and deaths, the pandemic has also resulted in increased isolation of senior citizen residents, and increased rates of depression and anxiety among young people. With many youth no longer communicating in Spanish, the young and older populations are becoming further estranged from each other. This project is aimed at connecting these two groups, to create mutually beneficial relationships for both individuals and the community.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Through its “Voices” project, Boyle Heights Beat will work to build and strengthen relationships between youth and elderly; creating dialogues, giving voice to both populations and allowing both groups to learn about each other’s differences and similarities. These types of intergenerational relationships help strengthen individuals and the community. Studies have shown these relationships offer benefits to youth such as improved academic performance, enhanced social skills and increased stability. Over the last decade BHB has a proven track record in the neighborhood and is a source the community relies on for information and engagement. A healthy community requires opportunities for residents to engage with each other and their leaders. Through its storytelling projects, BHB provides residents with these opportunities. By training youth as storytellers and conveners, BHB empowers youth as leaders and agents of change. BHB can partner with other local nonprofits to publish and exhibit these oral histories and create an even greater reach, deepening community connections. In this second installation of the project, we will go further to deepen our impact and reach and expand our work in some of Boyle Heights’ most underserved areas, the neighborhood around the Ramona Gardens housing project. We will also work with local organizations and nonprofits who work with further marginalized groups within the community like undocumented and LGBTQ residents.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Research shows that aging adults play a critical role in the lives of young people, especially the most vulnerable in society. Intergenerational relationships are also crucial to happiness and well-being in our later years. The goal is to change social norms to encourage relationship building between generations. This storytelling project is one way to bring older adults and youth together, creating an opportunity for both to learn new skills and help create long-lasting relationships. These relationships can help cultivate a sense of purpose for both young and old, and help reduce isolation and the likelihood of depression. Through our storytelling project Voices, we hope that residents are able to better connect, to find new understanding and appreciation of each other, and a way to uplift each other and the issues facing the community- making Los Angeles a better place.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
From our program’s beginnings researchers at UCSF created a survey to measure our project’s success and impact. We conduct these surveys with students, who are asked about what they’ve learned about reporting, their confidence levels, the academic impact, and community engagement. Overwhelmingly students self report that the program, and working with journalist mentors has improved their self confidence and heightened their career ambitions and sparked an interest in journalism. They also report a new understanding and appreciation for their community. In the first “Voices” series, youth report at senior at Roosevelt High School Anayram Corona interviewed Carlos Montes, an activist in the Chicano movement. “It’s very important to connect with older community members to not only learn lessons from the many stories they have to tell, but also to be able to share those stories with a larger group. Sharing those stories is what makes the difference in the community,” she says.
Which of the connect metrics will you impact?
- Social and emotional support
- LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion
- Immigrant integration
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE