Since the early 1990s, the Washington-based 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 (LGBTQ) youth on a national level.
''We focus on a lot of different things,'' says Isaiah Webster III, NYAC's project 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. Looking at the bigger picture, NYAC is also readying to get LGBTQ youth involved in the 2008 elections.
In the meantime, Webster 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,''' he adds, pointing to 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 invites young and old to check out the NYAC booth at the Capital Pride Festival this year.
''We are very happy to be a part of Capital Pride. It goes to the very heart of what we do.''
For more information call 202-319-7596 or visit www.nyacyouth.org.