The Federal Way Youth Action Team works to help youth development in the community after an increase in violence and reports from schools in the area to the juvenile system.
Council member Jesse Johnson is one of the prominent public figures working with this organization to help the city’s youth.
His favorite part about working with FWYAT is serving his childhood community.
“I am able to serve the youth in the community that I grew up in alongside so many passionate community members that are working professionals in our city,” he said.
FWYAT is involved in several programs in the community, including Positive Outcomes Program (POP). According to FWYAT’s website, POP serves young adults aged 12-24 that are “typically overlooked or underserved, many of whom are at risk of interaction with the juvenile justice system.”
The program is designed to help these young adults achieve their future goals.
Johnson said the team was established after a growing concern of youth violence in the city, a desire to address the number of school and police referrals of youth, particularly youth of color, to the juvenile justice system, and “a realization that there are severe gaps in culturally responsive prevention and intervention services for Federal Way youth.”
FWYAT currently serves local youth with four different programs.
POP, with about 30 involved youth; Ambition is Priceless (AIP) with about 15 active middle school youth participants; Helping Youth Produce Excellence (HYPE), with 15 middle and high school youth; and Game of Life (GOL) with 30 post- high school young adults.
Johnson said these programs help teach the youth different life skills to give them the best possible chance to succeed in whatever they choose to do.
“The youth become engaged in community service, learning job and life skills, going on field trips, trainings and getting access to jobs and internships,” he said.
Johnson said he’s had a lot of memorable times working with the youth action team, even during his campaign for council member.
“I was able to work with youth during my campaign knocking on doors and talking to residents and they were so passionate about it,” he said.
Charissa Eggleston has been with the FWYAT since 2016, and she is also on the team’s board and runs HYPE. She first got involved after Wesley Gennings was murdered, and said it was more personal to her because her son was friends with Gennings as well as the other boys involved.
She wanted to help bridge the gap between the youth of color who felt like they were on the outside of society to the larger community.
“I have a heart for those kids that are struggling,” she said.
Eggleston said her son, a graduate from Federal Way Public Schools, volunteers with HYPE as well, helping teach kids different ways of speaking depending on their audience.
Eggleston loves seeing so many diverse people with the same mission.
“We’re giving the diverse youth and families a voice,” she said.
She wants to help teach youth that they have a voice and they have the ability to use it to advocate for themselves.