The building at 1809 University Ave., the current home of Youth Radio, was busting at the seams Friday night as the nonprofit held an informal graduation ceremony.
Outgoing state Assemblymember Dion Aroner, D-Berkeley, was onhand to congratulate the youths as was Tom Bates and his wife Lonnie Hancock, former Mayor of Berkeley.
But there was something rather bitter-sweet to the ceremony, even though the overcrowded room was a sea of proud, smiling youths talking about future plans, possible college choices, summer jobs — possibilities.
The caveat was an uncertainty about the future physical location of Youth Radio.
The building is owned by Panoramic Properties and will likely undergo redevelopment in the upcoming years, and in that event Youth Radio may be forced to relocate.
But Executive Director Beverly Mire was extremely tight-lipped about the matter and kept things decidedly positive.
“I will say that in any event we will be here next year,” Mire said.
Mire would not speak about negotiations that may or may not be underway with Panoramic Properties President Patrick Kennedy.
But onhand was a possible ally in the form of Mayoral candidate Tom Bates.
“I think it’s really too bad if they lose this space. We will just have to find some place in the city for this program,” Bates said. “This really is a wonderful program.”
Youth Radio was distinguished recently by receiving the Peabody Journalism Award. A few weeks ago several youth at the nonprofit held court with the state Assembly. And this calendar year, they completed the first video element of the program.
Some have contended that one drawback to the peer-oriented education that occurs at the facility is that after graduating there are not many avenues for the youths to directly link up with.
But Mire addressed that issue with optimism as well.
“They can’t help but having their self-confidence improved,” she said.
Mire equated the Youth Radio education as to being a positive experience the youth can take with them when they leave and draw upon for whatever their future may hold.
“The reality is that not all of these kids will be going onto college. Some will but not all of them. So this program is designed to give them the skills.”
Aroner said the program is impressive on various fronts and spoke to UC Berkeley Journalism professor teaching a program at Youth Radio next year as being a way that the program may be able to link the students up with future job opportunities.
“This is a youth-oriented program and that’s I think one of the keys to their success,” Aroner said. “There aren’t too many youths around mucking things up.
“And that’s I think how these programs should be run, the adults should provide the support but the youth should be allowed to do the planning and the deciding,” she said.
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