Home News Center YJLI Alum Kizzy Rogers Turns Childhood Adversities into Passion for Change

YJLI Alum Kizzy Rogers Turns Childhood Adversities into Passion for Change

August 30, 2022
Tracey Tucker

What got you into youth justice reform?
I am compelled to work with at-risk youth who have traveled a path towards the legal system. Being someone who experienced both the juvenile justice and foster care systems, I often felt it was my duty to extend a helping hand and pour back into my community’s youth. During my childhood I too was a victim of violence perpetrated by a teenager. This was one of the most horrific experiences, I was shot by a teenager at a very tender age. The young man who shot me then continued to further matriculate into the legal system; he was later killed as a young adult due to an incident involving law enforcement. This young man challenged the police to a gunfight in which he succumbed to his injuries. My childhood experiences with the systems afforded me a level of empathy that far exceeds my passion. As a product and victim of my environment this created a unique perspective for me.  

I envision a different level of recognition for recidivism and how the system failed me and the young man who perpetrated violence against me. Having experienced many childhood adversities, I wholeheartedly empathize with today’s youth. I truly know first-hand that our youth are hurting and are longing for a supportive network instead of being locked away without the necessary supports that provides them with an opportunity to flourish within society despite their life choices or situations in which they have encountered throughout their short lives. It is my core belief that when youth are afforded with a supportive network that provides them with opportunities to receive guidance from individuals, this encourages their pro social behaviors and promotes their success regardless of their past behaviors. I want to provide youth with the support and resources they will need to help them overcome systems that are designed for their failure/s. My desire is to continue to be an advocate for all youth, because just like my past experiences, these youth are longing for a system that benefits and encourages their abilities to be successful individuals.  

My goal is to continue to advocate for justice for at-risk youth and young adults and continue to advocate for all the community's youthI understand just like my childhood experiences that with the lack of support that these youth are silently craving, they are predestined to also succumb to their environment which could possibly be a wrong turn for them.  

Tell us about your advocacy project.
Initially, I wanted to focus on a program introducing alternatives to detentions to decrease the number of youth in our local detention center. The program would provide the youth with conflict resolution skills and therapeutic services, while also identifying any traumatic needs. An exploration of identifying Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) will be utilized to aid the youth in developing a resilient state of being. Needless to state, my project has evolved as a result f of my current educational endeavors to pursue a doctoral degree in behavioral health. I am now focusing on adult mental health and the impacts of trauma experiences. I am researching how trauma has impacted them using ACEs to identify how underlying trauma keeps people trapped in these systems. Once my research is concluded, I hope to present at conferences to discuss ACEs and how addressing this trauma will lead to healthy communities and reduce recidivism.

Although, currently my thoughts have shifted, upon successful completion of my graduate degree, I plan to continue to fully flourish with my advocacy and work towards developing a restorative justice program for youth and young adults within my community to work towards a better system at rehabilitation of the youth within my community.  

What motivates you?
I am driven by a compassionate soul to touch as many children and families as I can and provide them with supportive services. Because I overcame many circumstances in my own life, my goal is to encourage our black and brown communities to fight on...because, they also can overcome any obstacles they may be facing in life. I have great joy in my heart, when individuals in my own family, neighborhood or community overcome [obstacles] to become healthy individuals that too find joy. It is so important to me that our Black and Brown youth and young adults know that Black and Brown family units are valuable; that our children are valuable and that we can have happy healthy relationships. I want our communities to know that no matter the current circumstances, we can find healing and joy despite the obstacles that are in the way. So, to sum it up, I am simply motivated by my career of being a licensed social worker.

What is your dream for youth justice?
My dream for youth justice is that children, youth, and young adults are not placed in facilities but provided with adequate services that are therapeutic to address their needs. I despise the systems that entrap youth due to their behaviors. I dream that the current systems change, and young people are not wrapped up in these harmful systems. Advocacy will continue to create therapeutic systems that invest in young people's futures and allow them to become healthy and productive citizens within society.

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