The TNOYS Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) has been making an impact since it began in 2018. Read more about its work so far here. These accomplishments would not have been possible without strong and dedicated members.Get to know a little more about YALC member Charles Batiste in this recent interview
Why did you join the YALC?
It was an interesting thing. I went to the TNOYS conference and they were talking about youth involvement into their work – so Dr. Narendorf and I sat down, had a talk, and we decided to apply. This youth council was the first TNOYS has had and I was interested because it’s in the line of work I was trying to get into, am interested in.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m born and raised in Houston. I like to work out, sports – all sports. I like nature. And I’m a people person. It’s important to me to help youth that are aging out of foster care, that’s my main goal. Or youth who have no support. That’s a big thing I’d like to change.
How do you think the YALC is making a difference so far?
The YALC is making a difference in terms of spreading awareness. When we are doing the different trainings, people come up to us and say how they are starting to have more patience with the youth and starting to be more open to letting youth like us come in and talk more to them, listen to what we have to say. They’re more now seeing what the kids need and want to make their lives as normal–or as better–as they can. I think the YALC’s work has a lot to do with that – going out and working on these policies, having webinars and different trainings, and making people aware.
You were recently a part of some important training and advocacy events, what was your role in these events?
For the trainings, I was actually the one presenting – on fight or flight, prevention of runaways. For meetings, I went in and gave my opinions on different policies and ways we could help improve the system. [The other YALC members and I,] we facilitate too. – sometimes I’ve been the MC and facilitated the whole training, doing the whole thing from calling up presenters, talking and introducing. I would say we advocate and we regulate!
How do you think that your roles made a difference?
Every last training we have done, we’ve had 5 or 7 people who’ve come up to us afterwards. They really want to talk more to people like us with lived experience. It’s something that they can really relate to the youth they serve. A lot of people understand that, they are trying to get a feeling of what normalcy looks like in a program or an RTC [residential treatment center] – to see what kind of ways to make they can that change.
I see a lot of open minded people who are listening, ready to make changes. A lot of people start crying too. They didn’t know these bad things were actually happening – they try so hard to make children feel safe, but they may be higher up and things happen down the line. So, they come and they get inspired to make things different, better.
Do you notice anything different about yourself since being part of the YALC and these events?
I’m growing. I feel like I’m maturing. It brings me out of my comfort zone. I grew up on the streets in and in the system, but I jump out of my comfort zone now to go to school and to do these events – it makes me want to keep making a change.
Also, it teaches me things to help the people I still know in the system – I get different connects and information to help them get their benefits and support. I like that I find resources for people still in the system so they don’t stray off, so they stay on the right track. “If you knew better, you do better,” they say . I can help them do better – the youth, the programs, everyone.
What hopes do you have for the future of the YALC?
A couple years from now, I’d love to be one of the leaders of a council of youth still in the system. And maybe we can go out and get ideas nationwide. Like one idea I’ve heard about is host homes – maybe we can go look at it in another state and bring it back to Texas or to Houston. For now, I would like to see us and TNOYS keep doing what it’s doing. We’re doing a lot. Keep on spreading awareness.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’d just like to say that TNOYS is building two fine young gentleman in Justin [link to Justin’s post] and I.