by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
On June 16, Queer Youth Space (QYS) announced that due to the community initiative of hundreds of Queer youth and adult supports, the organization has been recommended for a Large Project Fund by the City of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods to the tune of $99,982 - the full amount requested.
According to QYS officials, the money will go towards opening a new youth-led cultural arts and activism space on Capitol Hill in the fall. The project, called THREE WINGS, will service the LGBT youth in a number of different ways, QYS officials say.
"We are currently negotiating with a Capitol Hill landlord about the exact location to house the THREE WINGS project," QYS spokesperson Hanna King told SGN. "What the Large Project Fund recommendation proves is that it is clear that, with support and resources, youth are capable of positive things. We, as a group of young people, were able to write a 67-page proposal to successfully secure funding."
King told SGN that a Queer youth space is important because "without a safe space it is easy to become lost - this will be a space for youth to call their own."
The Queer youth-led space, under the moniker THREE WINGS, will look like this:
WING 1 will consist of a Cultural Activism Lab to build Queer peer support networks, positive youth identities, and community pride by providing a space where Queer youth could socialize, work, and create together. The Cultural Activism Lab will include a café, arts and cultural gallery, performance/class space, and community organizing spaces. The lab would serve as the face of THREE WINGS and as the primary function of its physical space where young people could utilize the open format to make media, socialize, and get engaged with local activism.
WING 2, the Wellness Collaborative, would provide critical education and mental health services to address the disparities for health and wellbeing experienced by Queer youth. QYS officials say that "WING 2 will address disparities in the quality of life of Queer people, and other compounding factors, through holistic counseling, coaching and goal-attainment partnerships, peer mediation, health/legal information and referral, academic support, classes/groups aimed at personal healing and community wellness." THREE WINGS would offer these services in a non-confrontational and confidential way.
WING 3, the Research & Education Institute wing would work to positively impact the policies and cultural practices that negatively impact the community by developing a "think tank" that builds leadership and promotes policy and community change through research, education, and advocacy. The institute would also produce alternative media and web resources, research-based resources, and educational materials. It would provide technical assistance and consultation to schools and agencies.
Although the space is open to the public, King admits "first and foremost we are a space for youth, led by youth."
"It is important that we provide a space that constitutes a safe environment in all connotations of the term - physical, emotional and mental," she told SGN.
"QYS is coalition based," King said, adding, "we are not a counseling center or a substance abuse center, but we will have the resources to point at-risk youth in the right direction."
QYS officials say that as they prepare to open the new space, the Pride Foundation has made it possible for them to hire paid organizers. Youth who are interested in applying may do so by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
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