Youth Leadership

The PlayGarden is committed to elevating youth voices and empowering youth with the skills they need to be confident, compassionate and social-justice oriented leaders in our community.

Youth Leaders at their Culminating Event, June 2022

From preschool to adulthood…

Our goal is to grow a network of vibrant young leaders who are committed to creating a greater sense of belonging, empowerment, solidarity for youth with and without disabilities, across diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in King County.

Context: We know that when young people are given opportunities for leadership, they can become incredible catalysts for change in our communities. We support their efforts as our nation, and the world, grapples with identifying and dismantling longstanding systems of inequity. 

Through youth leadership development, ongoing mentorship and support of our Youth Leadership program the PlayGarden seeks to… 

  • Equip diverse young leaders with leadership training
  • Be a space of friendship, belonging, connection and inspiration for youth. 
  • Help youth develop personal confidence and professional skills 
  • Foster a love and appreciation for one another and living in a diverse community.
  • Empower more youth with disabilities to share their ideas, stories and dreams. 
Preschool Peace Parade
2021 PG staf

We are diverse youth that Move in Solidarity across race, culture & issue to align, build, heal, dream & organize for transformative change.”

Youth-Led Moving In Solidarity Coalition 

In January 2022, the PlayGarden was invited to join 10 other youth-serving organizations in the participation of a youth-led Moving in Solidarity Coalition supported by Seattle & King County Public Health, Communities of Opportunity grants. The PlayGarden recruited four young adults to participate-

Leiney Gamache, Annie Jones, Josie Barker and Ella Mae MacPherson-George

One of the first projects the council participated in was participating in the youth-led Moving in Solidarity Coalition supported by Seattle & King County Public Health, Communities of Opportunity grants. In this coalition, the youth worked together with other youth ages 14-24 from 10 different organizations across king county.

Together the youth dove deep into conversations and embodied social justice activities that helped them express the unique experiences that have shaped their lives, the ways in which systemic inequities and oppression has impacted them, and through that found countless moments of belonging, connection &  understanding and community.

pictures of our 2022 youth leaders- 4 women- Josie, Annie, Leiney and Ella Mae

Civic Engagement & Advocating for Policy Change

As part of  the Moving in Solidarity Coalition work, our youth leaders were asked to identify 2-3 countywide policies that create barriers perpetuating racism/ableism or other inequities. As young adults themselves, our youth chose to focus on identifying county wide policies that impact young adults with disabilities. Leiney Gamache and Annie Jones wrote a series of posts that will go our on social media platforms to educate our community about these policies, the barriers they create for people with disabilities and WHY those policies need to be changed, like yesterday. 

Read Leiney Gamache’s full research paper,

“Institutionalized Ableism”  

“Ableist Policies that need to end like yesterday”

A media campaign  created by youth leaders Annie Jones and Leiney Gamache to increase awareness of ableist policies. 

Teen Nights at the PlayGarden! 

After two long years of COVID isolation, one of the first projects the youth council unanimously wanted to work on was to host teen and young adult nights at the PlayGarden.

The Importance of Teen Nights:

For me, Teen Night at the Playgarden was an exciting opportunity to create a social event for young adults to exercise independence and socialize with one another. Being part of the group who made Teen Night happen was extremely rewarding and such a fun experience!

Josie Barker
PlayGarden Youth Leader & Summer Camp Counselor

Being together in a group just to hang out with one another after COVID just doesn’t happen in 2022. We need time together.

Jenny G headshot
Jenny Gonser
Summer Camp Counselor

Why is it important to elevate youth voice? 

We asked a group of teens and young adults this question. This is what they said… 

Youth have so much to say and so much knowledge. I believe their voices come from a place of wanting genuine healthy change as opposed to a place of power and wanting control. 

Nyeri Headshot
Nyeri Carter
PlayGarden Summer Camp Counselor

Preschooler or Camper

Junior Counselor

Camp Counselor

Youth Leader

Community Change Maker!