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Connected Communities Spotlight: Youth OUTLOUD

Guest blog by Raechel Grissett, coordinator for Youth OUTLOUD, a Connected Communities grant recipient.

Youth OUTLOUD at the Harriet Hancock Center has been a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth in the Midlands since 2008. We have created an incredible relationship with the Central Carolina Community Foundation and would like to share our experience with the Connected Communities grant initiative.

When we first reached out to Central Carolina Community Foundation about the Connected Communities grant, we had plans to introduce our group of teens to their local communities around the Midlands. Many of our teens had expressed a lack of knowledge about what their respective cities had to offer. They wanted to know about exciting things to do with friends and businesses that provide a safe space for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community.

Youth OUTLOUD sought a way to provide the teens wholesome experiences in their communities from which they would learn what services and attractions are surrounding them. We were thrilled to learn about the Central Carolina Community Foundation and their grant opportunity because it aligned perfectly with our vision for Youth OUTLOUD.

My favorite story from the experiences we’ve had during our Connected Communities project occurred during our very first outing. We took a trip to Riverbanks Zoo & Garden to participate in a zip line tour and explore the zoo exhibits. We were watching the seals and sea lions laying under the sun when one of the teens confided that he did not have many opportunities to hang out with people his age at a place like the zoo. He said he was thankful that he was able to participate just by being a part of Youth OUTLOUD. Hearing this warmed our hearts because I knew this experience was making a significant impact on him.

Our goal is to use the grant to teach our teens about the neighborhoods around them and the ways that they can be a part of them. Being located in South Carolina’s capital, we have several unique opportunities for the teens to learn about civic engagement, neighborhood building, and so much more! Our next move is to the Richland Main Library, where the teens will gain insight into how the library provides for the community beyond just lending books and DVDs. We have a lot in store for Youth OUTLOUD in the upcoming months and we cannot wait to fill you in on all the details!