Moving Forward is a youth-based (13-20) healing initiative that draws on Indigenous practices to help young people in Merced County find alternative forms of healing, mentorship, professional development, political education and personal growth. Guided by the Joven Noble curriculum, the program organizes talking circles that encourage participants to share their personal experiences and opinions on different topics that specifically affect Black, Indigenous and communities of color. We collaborate closely with Indigenous community elder, Maestro Robert Castro, from Youth Outreach and Leadership Institute (YOALI), who consistently advises and participates in the development of the program. Through this collaboration, Moving Forward also engages in and organizes ceremonies, such as sweat ceremonies, Day of the Dead, Winter Solstice, and Spring Equinox.
During the program, young people document their experiences through media workshops that include poetry, writing prompts, photography, journaling and much more. These lead to the collective creation of a ‘zine, which delicately uplifts the unique stories of each participant’s healing journey.
This program encourages youth leadership and youth power. Currently, Moving Forward is participating in a youth-led participatory research project. The focus of this project is cannabis policies in our Merced schools, identifying where the system is failing so that the proper adjustments can be made.
In addition to offering healing methods and experiences to young people in Merced, Moving Forward also provides monthly stipends, internship opportunities, and strong interpersonal relationships.
Interested in Participating?
Currently, Moving Forward has three cohorts in the City of Merced, and is open for enrollment as soon as each cohort ends. The ceremonious nature of this program naturally embraces all identities (i.e. sex, gender, race) in order to enhance the healing and growth of our youth. Nonetheless, we always aim to prioritize youth who are impacted by incarceration and/or foster care.
Details and Information on each cohort can be found below:
Tenaya Middle School
Start Date: January 2023
Location: Tenaya Middle School (TMS)
Details: Open to all TMS students
Start Date: In Progress
Time: Tuesdays, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Location: yli Merced Office at 533 W Main St, Merced
Details: Open to youth, ages 14-20 who are system-impacted by incarceration and/or foster care.
Weaver Middle School (TBD)
Start Date: In Progress
Time: Fridays, 3:45-4:45
Location: Weaver Middle School
Details: Open to all Weaver Middle School students