I’m excited to see positive change and happy families. I look forward to continue to learn about unfair issues in our community. I find my power when I inform other youth and families about these issues. I’m excited to reach equality and encourage other youth to be more involved in their communities. Thanks to YLI, I am more aware of issues that affect my family, my community, and me. – Leslie Padilla
My name is Leslie Padilla, and I am a high school senior living in San Mateo. I’m Mexican American, the only daughter to my parents, an older sibling to my brother, and I will be the first in my family to go to college. I am motivated by a desire to make my parents proud, and carve a new path of success for my family by attending college. I became aware of YLI when they visited my college preparatory class, AVID. As a Latina, I felt that I needed to take a stand and serve my community.
I understand harm that some industries cause to our communities. For my quinceañera (a 15th birthday celebration for girls), my mom felt pressured to take out a short loan from a payday lender to help ease some of the costs for the party. My mom had a difficult time paying back the loan, and ended up paying a lot more then her original loan.
Payday lenders operate in marginalized communities, offering small cash loans with interest rates that can be as high as 459% annually. I want to see positive change in my community; I want to limit the negative impact of payday lenders. My commitment to YLI is a huge step to making change.
Through YLI, I participate in Youth Organizing San Mateo County (YO! Mateo). YO! Mateo advocates for policies that increase health in communities of color. Through YO! Mateo, I help lead many campaigns. The financial justice campaign limits payday lending in communities through policy advocacy. The food justice campaign organizes, empowers and mobilizes youth to improve their communities to address health disparities through access to nutritious foods. The countywide youth tobacco prevention coalition works to pass policies that ban smoking in multi unit housing.
I’m glad that YLI is helping me by building my leadership skills so I am able to help make positive changes that will affect community members.
Read the entire October eNews.