New London youth activist group to be honored Saturday

New London — Nearly 200 people are expected to gather Saturday at the Holiday Inn for a ceremony honoring the local youth activist group Hearing Youth Voices.

The group is celebrating its fifth anniversary and its $50,000 youth organizing award from the Nellie Mae Foundation honoring “those who share their voices to positively influence school policies and practice on behalf of all students.”

The celebration will feature original speeches by youth leaders who will tell their stories about their experiences in community activism in New London. There will also be several youth performances and a check presentation. State Rep. Chris Soto, D- New London, will present the group with an official proclamation from the state legislature.

Members of the New London City Council and Board of Education, as well as other state representatives, are expected to attend.

Nellie Mae’s first-ever Youth Organizing Award recognizes a New England youth group that has demonstrated its commitment to advancing student-centered learning or redesigning education to meet the needs of all students — specifically with a focus on public secondary education.

Hearing Youth Voices identify issues, research solutions and run campaigns aimed at making concrete, meaningful changes in their public schools. Their core membership and leadership are working-class youth of color, many of whom are also LGBTQI, immigrant, and/or have been pushed out of school.

Recently, the group ran the “We Want to Graduate Campaign,” in which hundreds of youth helped to revise a New London Public Schools attendance policy to offer supportive interventions instead of punishments for absent students, a change that affected more than 3,000 students and families.

The celebration is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn at 35 Governor Winthrop Blvd.

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