“We keep hearing that Oakland is violent and poor. I want people to know the positive of Oakland. I want to do that through my art and paint themes of peace and hope for youth in our city.” says a young artist in the program.
ln July 2012, 15 year old Hadari Askari an aspiring Fire Fighter, was shot and killed in the Havenscourt community in East Oakland, where he lived. No child or young person deserves a trajectory that ends at age 15. All children and youth deserve an opportunity to reach their full potential and live a full life.
To effectively disrupt the cycle of poverty and violence and build towards positive change in urban schools, educators must address the public health crisis that is affecting youth growing up in communities rife with gang violence, poverty, and abuse. These young people, predominately young men of color, are often involved in the criminal justice system, attracted to gang and street life, and are the most disengaged students with the highest rates of suspensions and school absenteeism, and lowest academic performance compared to their peers. The majority of these youth are at risk of succumbing to the cradle to prison pipeline.
To intervene in this trajectory, Safe Passages developed the Get Active Urban Arts initiative. Get Active is a cc-option and turning of a phrase youth in Oakland use that connotes fighting as in the need “to get active” to resolve conflict. The program is designed to promote social justice and cultural awareness with a strong emphasis on leadership development and community engagement. Youth in the program also receive experiential training in aerosol arts, graphic design, illustration, airbrushing, and mural production.
Get Active is developing a cadre of youth leaders in the Havenscourt community ages 14-19, to design and youth led community safety strategies utilizing Urban Arts and social justice as a framework.
The program Includes the following components:
It integrates both short term strategies to stabalize high risk studesnt of color, especially males, and longer term strategies that build student capcity to think critically, ownership over their learning, and hope for the future in a concrete and substantive college and career pathways.
• Development of a cadre of Havenscourt youth leaders consisting of high risk youth/advocates to prevent violence, resolve conflict and promote healthy choices.
• Community Awareness of negative impact and consequences of community and domestic violence.
• Decrease rates of youth and community violence.
• Safe Communities with stronger families and the on-going civic engagement of youth, considered at high risk for societal failure, gang and juvenile justice involvement.
Get Active is an exciting public-private partnership amongst the following entities: Safe Passages, City of Oakland Fund for Children and Youth, Oakland schools, Reaching Expanding Adolescent Lives Choices (R.E.A.L. Choices), Oakland Housing Authority (OHA).
Since graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in Criminal Justice in 2000, Jonathan Brumfield’s professional trajectory has been consistently focused on urban youth, from ages 12 -21 years of age – providing case management services and facilitating urban arts workshops and classes in community and school settings reaching the most disengaged students. Jonathan’s straightforward case management style, meeting the young people and their families where they are and his engaging teaching strategies makes Jonathan an effective practitioner with many examples of transformation among the students he touches – reengaging them in the class room and redirecting their life journeys toward positive and healthy choices.
Jonathan is an accomplished artist himself, in custom clothing, logos, tattoo designs; mural painting with aerosol; calligraphy; airbrushing; and illustration. He is currently a resident artist at the African American Complex in San Francisco. His artistic talents directly appeal to the young people with whom he works and cultivates as artist and entrepreneurs — facilitating museum and studio showings on behave of the art the youth produce under his tutelage as well as helping them develop their own portfolios. Since 2008, Jonathan has worked at Safe Passages as an Urban Arts Instructor and case manager.