Given the realities of violence and displacement our community has faced, we believe creating opportunities for youth to engage with and heal from past and present traumas/hurts/injustices are absolutely necessary for a more robust and sustainable launch.
The reality is that within the diaspora there is a wide variety of experiences relating to violence, displacement, and consequences of resettlement. Among our youth, some were born in Myanmar and have deeply traumatic memories of violence and displacement, most know the hardship of growing up in refugee camps, and all are currently navigating the nuanced difficulties of life in a 3rd country. Our heal programming works to meet our youth where they're at by engaging this diversity in experience by simply creating safe places to explore it, own it, and begin a journey of healing from it.
Learn more about our HEAL programs below:
"Wilderness" is a 5 night adventure into Minnesota's BWCA where we turn off the phones, turn down the noise, and give our youth an opportunity to reflect in nature. We are humbled to partner with our friends at Wilderness Canoe Base to make this incredible experience happen.
AYO (Asian Youth Outreach), is a culturally relevant 1-1 mentorship program. Youth referred from the county, schools, or clinics are paired with a trained and trauma informed Knyaw or Karenni mentor.
In July 2023, The Urban Village took 7 Knyaw youth on the very first Urban Village "Wilderness"trip in partnership with our dear friends at Wilderness Canoe Base on the Gunflint Trail. Our youth had an opportunity to reconnect with their indigenous roots by picking blueberries, cooking over the fire, and navigating through the wilderness without help from technology. It was amazing.
We know that healing is a dynamic process, one that requires both community and solitude. Wilderness offers both.
Knyaw Camp is a summer immersion experience centered on creating safe space for Knyaw youth to explore and engage the intersection of their identity. This is done in both large group and break out group settings. While at Knyaw camp, we eat traditional Knyaw meals, play games from the villages and refugee camps, share experiences, and allow everyone to embrace and embody what being Knyaw means to them through creative expression. This camp doesn’t create individualized healing plans, rather it allows each participant to come as they are, share their truths, and experience belonging. Last year, every willing camper shared an “I AM” poem that they were prompted to create. The exhibition of spoken word was not only profound in delivery, but in the sense of community, empathy, and solidarity it created amongst the entire group. This summer, over 100 Knyaw youth have signed up representing Knyaw communities of six different states, and Canada.
Karenni camp is also a summer camp experience mixed with a cultural immersion back into Karenni roots. At our inaugural camp this past summer, we focused on 4 topics and had 4 coinciding lessons: My History, My Language, My Traditions, My Identity. This is also done in large group and small group break out sessions. We also played culturally relevant games and ate tasty Karenni traditional meals.
(asian youth outreach)
AYO is a culturally relevant 1-1 mentorship program. Youth referred from the county, schools, or clinics are paired with a trained Knyaw or Karenni mentor. The mentors and mentees meet weekly and group activities are planned bi weekly. Our AYO mentors are also engaged in addressing the disparities in services for Karen and Karenni youth within the clinic and corrections systems. Mentors also create preventative resources and are a bridge to other helpful local programs.