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The spark that ignited the fire of advocacy

Where the passion for helping the community and the defense of human rights come together is where Silvanna Morelos can be found.

Silvanna, who lives in Santa Ana, is a bright 18-year-old who has managed to find her voice through her involvement with programs focusing on social improvement.

Since her sophomore year of high school, she has been part of the Young Senators club where she has learned more about her community and the individuals within. Through her involvement, Silvanna has been able to inform and educate people of all ages about their legal rights.

“It was called the ‘Know Your Rights’ presentation and we were just giving information to the students so that they could be prepared for any case scenario or so they could spread the word to their own family members, so there was just this domino effect,” said Silvanna.

Amongst the information they provided was information regarding DACA and steps on how to register to vote.

Although she was able to frequently interact with her community in that group, Silvanna longed to start a conversation about restorative justice. It was then that she joined the Youth Policy Fellowship where she says her experience was “very eye-opening.”

Restorative justice is a community-based approach to dealing with crime, the effects of crime and crime prevention, according to the Conflicts Solution Center. It was there at the Fellowship where Silvanna was able to learn and start a conversation about it.

The Youth Policy Fellowship is a program within Resilience OC, a youth organization whose mission is to build a movement of young leaders who work towards social-systemic transformation, according to their official website. This nonprofit organization promotes programs that are inclusive of everyone in the community, something that Silvanna admires.

“That’s the thing about Resilience. Whenever we have a program it’s very open and at least in my past experience, they make this environment that’s very friendly. It’s easy to start getting these bonds even if we don’t get to see each other that often,” said Silvanna.

The environment the program creates makes Silvanna feel safe, which has changed her significantly. Despite being a timid and quiet person, Silvanna feels as if her experiences in these groups have transformed her into someone confident.

Although Silvanna doesn’t label herself an activist, her driving passion is justice. Even before joining Young Senators, Silvanna longed to help those in her community. Coming from a low-income immigrant family with a mother who had to work multiple jobs, she knew very well the difficulties many people face in life.

“I felt like my entire life I would just be waiting for things to happen to me and for once, I just wanted to take control and do something about it,” she said.

In regards to the socio-political actions that must be taken, Silvanna says the most important thing she learned at the Youth Policy Fellowship was that “we have to take the system down. It was described as a kind of cancer. You can do this and that but for cancer, you just need to get rid of it.”

Currently, Silvanna is majoring in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, with dreams of someday becoming a lawyer.

The "Inside Out Project" created by the Young Senators Club at Santiago High School (Garden Grove) showcases people of different backgrounds. (Photo: Young Senators Club Instagram page).
The “Inside Out Project” created by the Young Senators Club at Santiago High School (Garden Grove) showcases people of different backgrounds. (Photo: Young Senators Club Instagram page).