“Eye-Opening” Success

Written by Victoria Berryhill

As the end product of this year’s Summer Youth Leadership Academy, a group of 14 Travis County teens created a pop-art mural of an eyeball, complete with a mandala iris and yellow polka dot background. It was the effort of multiple people working toward a unified vision.

The art project was put together by kids ages 14 to 18 through the Summer Youth Employment program. SAFE’s Expect Respect partners with the City of Austin each year to offer the program as a way to educate and empower youth while encouraging healthy relationships and creating future role models, allies, and peer educators.

Teens sign up for the Summer Youth Leadership Academy during the school year before starting five weeks of job-readiness training. From there, participants are hired by animal shelters, hospitals, and various organization in Austin, including SAFE.

The creation of community art projects show youth how to find a voice as individuals and apply it as a collective. Past projects have used mediums such as theater, music, video, and poetry to bring kids together and learn new ways to express themselves.

The Youth Summer Leadership Academy is an Expect Respect Youth Leadership Program through SAFE, the City of Austin, and Travis County. For more information, check out the Expect Respect YouTube playlist to see kids in action.