Whew! What a time in Florida, y’all! I’m just getting back from an incredible organizing workshop with 46 young folks aged 16-22 who converged at the Hope CommUnity Center (HCC) from central and south Florida. And this was just the precursor! These inspiring young leaders learned organizing just that weekend with a plan to coach their peers the following weekend where nearly 220 people gathered to ignite a movement!

As you walk into the HopeCommUnity Center, you see a beautiful mural which represents the history and community. Once you pass the front desk, you are greeted with at least three hugs and smiles for days. Seeing the youth embrace their role in changing Florida into the place they want to call home was beautiful to watch. One young person remarked, “I realized I have a story and I need to tell it.”

It was a beautiful, joyous, spirit-filled space that made me feel loved and at home. It’s clear that HCC is bringing hope to communities, not just through words but through action. Its clear they are well on their way to building the power necessary to see FL shift! I was joined by Kortni D. Malone, my fellow Wild Trainer & Coach, and many others.

The following weekend, I watched leadership in action with over 200 young people and moms. The 46 coaches trained the weekend prior facilitated their own small groups and supported the learning of folks from more than 8 local and statewide Florida organizations. It felt like magic was in the room. Folks left feeling more equipped and more inspired to create real change in Florida, and I left with more hope that change was actually possible! Can’t wait to see where it grows from here!

Nneka Akubeze, Wild Trainer & Youth Empowerment Project Coordinator