Deputy Superintendent Greer and long timeCity Manager Bill Lindsay set the tone for the evening with their keynote speeches praising the efforts of the young people present and expressing their hope for increased youth engagement through Y-PLAN in the future. Amanda Elliott, Executive Director of the Richmond Main Street Initiative and Y-PLAN Client for De Anza and Kennedy High Schools, then highlighted the work her organization has been doing to improve the historic downtown area of Richmond. She presented the project question that served as the focus of the De Anza and Kennedy students' work: "How can we build a more healthy and vibrant Richmond for and with young people?” The students took the stage next. Presentations from DeAnza and Kennedy High Schools focused on health and digital access in downtown Richmond, and Richmond High School Health Academy students shared their innovative project to offer a class on mental health to local middle schools working in partnership with Contra Costa Health Services. Our esteemed panel provided feedback to students on their proposals. Members of the panel included: Bill Lindsay, Richmond City Manager; Amanda Elliot, Executive Director for Richmond Main Street Initiative; Shelly Fields, Assistant Principal at De Anza High School; Betty Geishirt Cantrell, Director of SparkPoint; Shannon Ladner-Beasley, Manager at Contra Costa Health Services; Cedrita Clairborne, Program Manager at Contra Costa Health Services; and Arnold Dimas, Richmond High School Student and former Y-PLAN participant.
“We were honored to partner with Y-PLAN and the teachers at De Anza and Kennedy to bring this curriculum to the students”, said Alicia Gallo, outreach coordinator at Richmond Main Street Initiative. “Downtown was once the center of life in Richmond…now it is coming back and we want to make sure that it does so in a way that is beneficial for all Richmond residents. Exploring creative solutions and tapping into the experience and unique expertise that youth offer is crucial."