SINCE THE EARLY '90s, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) has taken a social-justice approach to improving the physical and emotional well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) youth on a national level.
''We focus on a lot of different things,'' says Isaiah Webster, a NYAC program coordinator. ''We have a health department that works with health, empowerment, HIV/AIDS and self-esteem, and all those things. We really want to take a holistic approach to making sure that LGBTQ youth are safe.''
Some of the work NYAC does includes leadership development training, to help empower gay youth about their development, including health-related issues and career options.
''We facilitate mentoring programs so that youth and adults can have a dialogue on how to create safe-havens and environments to foster the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth,'' says Webster.
He points to a number of ways to get involved with NYAC.
''We have a Youth Health Council of national youth leaders who volunteer time, who come to Washington once a year to review our materials and give us feedback on our programs,'' he says. ''Or [you] can come in and be involved with 'You Know Different,' [NYAC's campaign to increase HIV testing among gay youth]. It just depends on [your] level of interest and what [you] want to do.'' To explore the various options, Webster suggests you check out the NYAC booth at Pride this year.
''We are very happy to be a part of Capital Pride,'' he says, ''it goes to the very heart of what we do.''
For more information call 202-319-7596 or visit www.nyacyouth.org.