West Oakland Youth Standing Empowered
West Oakland Youth Standing Empowered (WYSE) is youth program with a mission to teach leadership and entrepreneurial skills. WYSE’s goal is to advocate for healthy communities focusing on food security and the built environment through projects like: Healthy Neighborhood Stores Alliance.
"As a West Oakland youth and resident I hope one day to see young children with families out to play at their local park where it’s safe and clean. A young female teenager walking to school on wide sidewalks with enough space for her and a person in a wheel chair to pass on by and beautiful assortments of greenery trailing along side of them, A mother walking just around the corner to purchase fresh pesticide free produce from local farmers, trash cans on every corner, visible crosswalks equipped with stop signs"
Hear one of our youth stories
WYSE team member James Berk receiving the Robert Redford Art of Activism Award from Rosario Dawson in 2010.
Through our partner, Ashoka Youth Ventures, WYSE member James left for Germany in August 2011 to study culinary arts with German chefs and now that he's back he is testing out his skills in the Mandela Foods Kitchen!
WYSE was founded in 2006 after a group of youth worked on the Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention (CX3) project. The students collected various data on the conditions of West Oakland. CX3 helped the students critically examine their community. The critical analysis inspired the youth to take action and they did so by forming WYSE. One of their first projects was WYSE Streets.
CX3 -- Go to video
The goal of WYSE Streets is for youth to be the voice of the community and respond to West Oakland residents' concerns stated in the WYSE Streets Surveys. In this, the youth not only take action for their community and create positive change, but they also develop leadership skills to assist them in becoming fearless when facing challenging odds.
Thus far, the youth took leadership in gathering 300 surveys from West Oakland residents pertaining to public transportation, coordinating and gathering petitions at the West Oakland and MacArthur BART stations, petitioned at bus stops. The results? They got more than 10 bus benches installed in West Oakland, sidewalks repaired along San Pablo Ave., cross walks repaired and installed along 7th street, one public trashcan installed on San Pablo Ave., and one traffic light to be investigated on 34th and San Pablo. They also joined alliances with Urban Habitat advocating & passing measure VV to keep fair fares for AC Transit riders.
We were able to get support from Trina Barton with the mayor’s office, Anaa Reese from Public Health and Lindsay Imai from Urban Habitat who supported us by calling contacts, connecting us with useful resources and whatever else we needed help with. We are still in contact with Urban Habitat and Anaa Reese from Public Health who are still assisting and supporting our efforts for a positive change in our community through the strong best hands in the community, the youth.
McClymonds Park Project: Before & After the WYSE Team
WYSE partners and supporters include:
Alameda County Public Health Department, Ashoka Youth Venture, Common Vision, Community Services Unlimited, East Bay Conservation Corps, Healthy Eating Active Communities- Accelerated School, Indigenous-Permaculture, Planting Justice, City of Oakland - Public Works, Urban Habitat, Wall Street Wizards, YMCA East Bay