Building ladders

Emily Alma, founder and executive director of Community Collaborative for Youth, is still busy building her own ladder and climbing on every rung.

“May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung,” in the words of Bob Dylan. That’s what we’re about at Community Collaborative for Youth: providing experiences for youth that inspire and empower them to build their own ladders to their own set of stars, and climb on every rung to reach there.

The purpose of CCY is to provide opportunities for youth to come together to build strength and support, celebrate themselves and each other, reduce violence, and create healthy lives. Our programs encourage youth to creatively explore their unique strengths and challenges, and find solutions that will lead to positive outcomes for themselves and their community.

CCY is a nonprofit coalition of community-based programs serving over 450 youth this year. Each program provides experiences that encourage creativity, resiliency and respect for all.

Theatre on the Inside Out works with Oroville schools, using drama as a vehicle for youth to understand and portray the dynamics of bullying. Open Arts, at Chico Unified’s Academy for Change, inspires students to look at things differently, to see new possibilities for art and new possibilities for making creative change in their lives. Beyond Violence Alliance provides workshops offering interactive experiences that help youth become aware of the roots of violence in their personal lives and in our culture. Every Youth Included uses creative activities for youth to address personal and relationship issues, reduce use of drugs and alcohol, and build respect. SERV (Stopping the Existence of Relationship Violence) helps youth learn nonviolent ways to deal with relationship conflict. SERV also provides a drop-in center in downtown Chico, where youth can feel safe and supported.

Many of the youth we serve are considered to be “high risk"—struggling with substance abuse, probation, juvenile hall, challenging family lives dominated by poverty and drug abuse; victimized because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, or the other thousand ways of being “different” in our culture. What is amazing about these youth is their ability to smile, to bounce back, to enjoy being playful, to appreciate being appreciated, to respond to a safe space to be themselves, to be able to tell their story and be heard, to be respected for who they are.

Many community members enjoyed CCY’s recent May Magic event, held May 7. It was a delightful day filled with positive activities and great entertainment for all ages. Numerous local artists and merchants contributed to make May Magic a huge success.

CCY depends on the generosity of the community to continue providing these unique services. To learn more, log onto, or call 566-1806.