© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Two Southern Berkshire County youths connected to the Railroad Street Youth Project on incoming Mass. AG Campbell’s transition team

Railroad Street Youth Project

Two participants in the Railroad Street Youth Project in Great Barrington, Massachusetts are members of Attorney General-elect Andrea Campbell’s transition team.

Campbell is the first Black woman to be elected attorney general in Massachusetts, as well as the first woman of color to be elected statewide. Among her transition team appointments are Deisy Escobar and Liza Price, who will serve on the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau subcommittee of Campbell’s “Ready On Day One” Committee. Price is a recent transplant to the region from New Jersey.

“It's a community-led youth organization in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and it is led by and for young people in Berkshire County," she told WAMC. "They have a lot of amazing community initiatives, they offer a super safe space for teens and young people across the county, and they play a huge role in organizing events that are really focused for youth and youth empowerment.”

Both are high school seniors in the Southern Berkshires – Price at Monument Mountain in Great Barrington and Escobar at Mount Everett in Sheffield – and both are involved with Railroad Street Youth Project. Escobar is co-chair of the Southern Berkshire Community Health Coalition.

“We have meetings, monthly meetings with organizations, agencies, health professionals who are in schools, like counselors and administrators like the student services, our principal from both schools, and people who are working in the organizations around our community around substance abuse and also treatment,” said Escobar.

Berkshire County continues to struggle with the ravages of the opioid epidemic to a degree that outpaces the rest of Massachusetts.

“We have this survey called the PNA, prevention needs assessment survey, that we do for students who are in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade, assessing their use of substances and what we call risk and protective factors," continued Escobar. "So, risk being how they are at risk to use substances and protective in the ways that we as a community support so that they don't have as much access to the substances and are catering to needs such as having a place where they can feel connected, or have mentors, or basically be able to have honest conversations, open conversations with their parents about substances, using, treatments, and also have resources and be supported in that sense by the schools as well.”

Price is a Railroad Street Youth Project intern organizing the annual 411 in the 413 Youth Conference and a member of the Youth Operational Board.

“So, the youth conference is a one-time annual event that happens in Berkshire County," she explained. "It is a way for Railroad Street Youth Project in collaboration with other community-based organizations to bring young people together. Thinking about years past and all of the pictures and wonderful things I've seen from them, it features a lot of activities and speakers and a lot of really motivational and uplifting people that get to speak directly to the young people of Berkshire County.”

In addition to her work with the RSYP, Escobar also co-hosts a radio show with her mother called Mundo Latino on WTBR that celebrates both the music and culture of Latin America and highlights resources for the immigrant community. She says she wants to draw from both experiences as she contributes to Campbell’s transition team.

“I really just want to make sure that the needs of my community, both from working with youth to the immigrant community, are really heard," Escobar told WAMC. "And the stories I hear about feeling isolated or struggling or needing more of this space to have their voices heard and what they need right now, especially since the pandemic and how that has affected things and different families and people. I really want, from what I've experienced and from the stories I've heard, I really want that to be communicated during this transition process in ways that we can incorporate different services and resources and voices into this transition to really promote a very united and connected community.”

She’s got a punch list of ways Massachusetts can better support her communities in Berkshire County.

“I'd love to see more resources for mental health in schools, for youth in general, make it a part of education, and also just more resources for the immigrant community and having kind of a basis or really emphasis on promoting the unification of organizations and kind of a network where many new coming immigrant families can go to," Escobar said. 'And promoting, you know, having a good transition for them, for families who go into the schools that don't have bilingual staff or anyone really there to help them navigate the process, the complicated process, so I really want to communicate that as well.”

As Price continues to acclimate to her new home, she says she has a lot to communicate about it on the larger stage the Campbell transition team selection offers.

“Berkshire County is amazingly historic," Price told WAMC. "I mean, I, every day, I feel like I'm learning something new and groundbreaking that happened here, from Herman Melville, to, of course, Norman Rockwell, and like the history of the Red Lion Inn- Everything around us is just so engrained in the past, which is an amazing resource that we can take advantage of. And I mean, at times, it can definitely feel stagnant, because we're constantly looking to the past, and I feel at times teenagers here may not feel like they have access to future opportunities, working opportunities, career-based opportunities. But I feel like organizations like Railroad Street Youth Project really do a good job of stepping up and uplifting kids to go and find and create their own opportunities in the Berkshires while they're not really handed them, which I feel like is just a huge contrast to maybe what we would experience somewhere else in the United States.”

Attorney General-elect Campbell will be sworn in January 18th, 2023.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
Related Content