“Young kids aren’t expected to strive. But they really do change their community and have the power to do so.”
Jose is currently a junior and standing Vice-President of his high school’s Friday Night Live (FNL) chapter at Novato High School. When he was first introduced to FNL 3 years prior as a freshman, he would have never imagined that he’d play a definitive role in keeping the program alive in his school. This year, he returned as a junior exhibiting amazing leadership and initiative in ensuring the program remains highly impactful. The FNL youth chapter will soon embark on its first full-fledged community campaign to raise Lee Law awareness in Novato.
Jose’s passion to bring his FNL chapter back to life is rooted in his conviction that the awareness it raises about alcohol and drug use, and the growth it sparked in him, are significant. FNL is powered by youth-adult partnerships that create powerful opportunities to encourage and empower young people to become active leaders and community resources. He says FNL has made him more articulate while developing his leadership skills and his sense of confidence. While he once found public speaking daunting, he now considers himself a “wordsmith,” a quality he believes all change-makers must have because, “People cooperate more fully if they understand where you’re coming from and what you want to do.”
The intense draw he feels to FNL is also due to the enormous opportunity it offers at raising awareness of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) abuse in his community. Jose has seen linkages between the deteriorating effects of substance abuse, men, and domestic violence; he is familiar with women who have fled violent situations and gone to women’s shelters. In the long-term, Jose wants to use the experience he gets in FNL to stop that cycle of violence, as well as survivors’ perception that resorting to substance abuse is “the only outlet they have.”
Jose says, “My goal in the long run is to raise enough awareness to stop some substance abuse. In my mind, lessening substance abuse will stop guys and husbands from doing harmful things to the women I saw in the shelters.”
Jose’s exposure to shelters has affected his career goals and ideas about contributing to society. Jose is highly motivated to pursue psychology in college to become a therapist or social worker.
Jose says that youth leadership is about, “Taking initiative and being outgoing. Leaders who are my age are pretty amazing. Young kids aren’t expected to strive. But they really do change their community, and have the power to do so.”