This past week, two of the teens involved in the Youth Collaborative got suspended from school. One was caught writing graffiti on an electrical box in the school playground. Even though he scribbled non-offensive remarks, the principal still called in a police officer and  scheduled family court to force his parents to pay reparations. His friends, who goaded him on, got off with no penalties. In the other incident, our teenager was manipulated into trying a marijuana brownie that one of her friends had brought to school, without telling her what it was. She didn't hear the end of it from her family.

At school and at home, our kids are judged all day long. They are caught up in a whirlwind of struggling to meet arbitrary standards and navigating the maze of peer pressure. You could say that in one sense, what we're trying to accomplish through the Youth Collaborative is to help our teens build a safe space for themselves, where they can experience freedom away from the noise of this world. A place to call their own.