Youth Voices

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Jeremy Orozco

CFJ is committed to building up communities and helping to follow through and make actual change. Their school climate work is creating real change and working with youth here in Fresno to help build better schools. CFJ is a statewide organization and I saw similar work and change [when I was a youth leader] in Long Beach as well. I saw this when a teacher of mine would tell students in their classroom, “don’t be afraid to leave everything at the door.”

By saying that, they were trying to make the classroom a safe space for students but they also knew sometimes students needed more than that. He would take you outside of the classroom and talk if you needed it. It helped me a lot in that class and other classes to know I had someone who was willing to be there for me and listen. Knowing in general there was someone at school made me feel better being in school. This is why CFJ’s work to improve school climate here in Fresno and across the state is so important to building a better future for all our students.

In my interview for a CFJ leadership position I was once asked why I wanted to join the group, and it was because I wanted to get involved in changing the school system. I knew that running a club in 30 minutes at lunchtime as a student in school makes it really hard to change anything, so I wanted to be involved more. And CFJ allowed me that space to really tackle the problems with our education system and change policy to be more accommodating to students.

Being a part of CFJ and changing the education system opened my mind to always give back even more and helped give me that platform to really be able to use my voice for change.

CFJ helped educate me through SYLA and the other leadership programs and taught me how to tackle justice and how to start those conversations about LGBQ, Trans and Gender-Conforming justice issues and others. Now that I’m an alumni, it doesn’t stop there. I’m feeling comfortable starting conversations in different spaces and carrying it forward with me in life.

I’ve just started classes at UC Merced and CFJ has continued to play a role in supporting and empowering my development. Despite moving away from Long Beach and staff there, the team in Fresno has reached out and is continuing to engage me in the CFJ family. I’m happy to know I matter, and that relationships matter at CFJ.

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