Roots and Wings empowers Kingston youth

Program offers workshops for young girls, trans and gender non-conforming youth of color

Image supplied by: Supplied by: Roots and Wings
Youth and troupe leaders work collaboratively during workshops and meetings.

Queen’s students can help empower and educate Kingston youth on social justice issues by volunteering at Kingston-based Roots and Wings (R&W).

R&W offers programs and community for Kingston youth of colour between the ages of eight to 12 who identify as girls, trans, and gender non-conforming. Many current volunteers at R&W are undergraduate and graduate students at Queen’s.

The organization encourages youth and volunteers to teach and share skills while striving to educate and invite the greater community to act.

“R&W’s primary goal is to support our youth, troupe leaders, curriculum development and fundraising teams to develop self-reliance, build solidarity networks, collaboration, and mutual aid,” R&W said in an email statement to The Journal.

A part of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPRIG), R&W was inspired by the Radical Monarchs group of Oakland, California.

Founded by two mom-friends, R&W has grown since the winter of 2017, with the support of friends and community members. The group of 12 youth currently meets bi-weekly to learn about social justice topics, explore their identities, interact with the community, and share skills.

Exploratory workshops cover a wide range of topics from circus skills and tree identification to consent and body image—while working closely with local organizations.

“We prioritize group activities that involve workshops or field trips in collaboration with other community organizations, allowing the youth and troupe leaders to connect with, and learn from, a diverse range of organizations,” R&W said.

At its core, R&W’s goal is to create a “radical community of care and love” through mentorship and developing leadership skills. The group participates in decolonizing and collective feminist praxis—applicable practices rooted in research. Their exploration is rooted in intersectionality and anti-racism.

The value of R&W’s work is in the program’s individual impact. When youth can name their experiences, they become empowered to oppose oppression, R&W said.

“Several youths, for example, have shared that they were able to talk about issues they were facing in more open ways with teachers and family members.”

R&W said, in May, one youth encouraged their classmates to place Black Lives Matter posters in the windows, in solidarity after the killing of a Black Indigenous woman in Toronto.

“[R&W] has not only enabled our youth to name their experiences of oppression, discrimination, racism, ableism, it has empowered them to do something about it.”

University students can get involved with curriculum development, marketing, or workshop facilitating—either as volunteers or as a part of internships and practicums.

To partake in R&W as a volunteer, the organization encourages students to express interest via email and follow them on Instagram or Facebook.


BIPOC, intersectionality, roots and wings. racism, Trans

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