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Youth in Action: "Don't Give Up on Youth"

De Quan O’Neal is an advisory board member of Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiatives Project (YIP) working tirelessly to recruit young males of color to a “Hugs Not Bullets” campaign—and he’s only a sophomore in high school.

I became a part of the Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiatives Project (YIP) during my freshman year at Osborn Evergreen Academy in Detroit, Michigan.  I was tired of seeing my peers affected by violence and drugs in my community.  I wanted to make a difference and in some way, and change attitudes about violence.  I heard about youth from YIP who did so much to help their peers.  I saw some of them in action at a community forum.  They actually enjoyed helping others and they had fun doing it.

As a YIP member, I became involved with leadership workshops for males at my school.  I learned so much about personal responsibility, teambuilding, violence, and much more.  I later enrolled into YIP’s Leadership Institute.  I was so impressed by the Peer Educators who were involved in training me on how to become a community leader.  We became familiar with multiculturalism, community organizing, public speaking, project planning and career development.  We also participated in a fieldtrip to the Holocaust Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  Because of Neighborhood Service Organization’s help, I was able to get a summer job.  I now know the importance of planning for my future and helping others.

I encourage everyone not to give up on youth.  We need support.  We need love.  Most importantly, we need to learn how to trust, because so many adults have failed us.  I am glad to be a part of the Detroit Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.  I have met a lot of adult allies, who encourage me to set goals in life.  As a result, I know that I am a community leader, who can help others.  I am honored to be a White House Youth Violence Prevention Champion of Change. 

De Quan O’Neal is an advisory board member of Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiatives Project (YIP) and a sophomore at Osborn Evergreen Academy on Detroit’s east side.