All kids are our kids. That belief is at the core of any and all work Tri-Town Council (TTC) does in the community. One of TTC’s primary goals is to build, support and strengthen healthy youth foundations. This work is best done in partnership and collaboration with others. With a 53 year history serving the Tri-Town community, TTC’s relationships with partners, stakeholders, community members and youth is broad and deep.
As a youth serving organization, we have the privilege of working directly with Tri-Town youth in a variety of ways and with many of the youth with whom we work, we build relationships that span multiple years. One such individual, a 2021 Masco grad with whom we’ve worked throughout his high school years, is Justin Crosby. Justin joined TTC’s Youth Action Advisory Board (YAAB) in 2017 as a freshman -- in YAAB’s first year of existence. He along with 7 of his high school peers, shaped the work YAAB does as the youth voice of TTC’s youth substance use prevention Coalition “the Coalition” - a partnership of community stakeholders and partners committed to preventing and reducing youth substance use and promoting healthy youth norms and decision making. Due to his commitment, leadership, tenacity and advocacy Justin was recently awarded the 2021 inaugural TTC Youth Asset Builder Award along with a $500 scholarship. We had the opportunity to sit down with Justin recently to talk about his participation in YAAB and the impact it's had on his high school experience.
For Justin, the biggest impact YAAB had was on his confidence. From the beginning, he was struck by how much “TTC trusts youth and how much emphasis they put on youth leadership.” Feeling supported by adults and having a group of peers around him who “believed in me and people who I believed in” led to Justin feeling “heard at YAAB meetings and the experience was a launchpad for confidence.”
YAAB helped foster a sense of advocacy too. In 2018, with the meteoric rise of youth vaping rates and the ubiquity of flavored vape products, YAAB was compelled to take action and advocate to get these products out of Topsfield establishments that youth frequented. For Justin, this action proved to be a formative experience. The effort involved presenting YAAB’s youth, health and safety perspectives at a Topsfield board of health meeting and attending a 2019 public hearing to advocate for the restriction. Topsfield’s board of health unanimously passed the restriction, and for Justin, the process was one of his first exposures to local politics and a lesson in the power of advocacy. (Middleton had already passed the restriction and Boxford had no establishments that sold tobacco products.)
That experience was one of many that helped Justin connect to his goal of having meaningful impact in his community. He is deeply committed to service, enabling and inspiring others, and elevating voices and perspectives that are underrepresented and historically unheard. This commitment to community and the underserved is shaping his plan to study political science at Yale in the fall and to intern this summer at Massachusetts’ Department of Transitional Assistance where he will learn about food insecurity and other challenges generated by economic inequality. Justin’s goal of meaningful impact is long-term and he plans to make service a life long mission. Ultimately, after some experience in the education and/or policy fields, Justin hopes to serve as an elected representative where he can focus his energies on shaping policy and working toward justice -- assuring that justice is “seen, heard, valued, and the reality.”
TTC and YAAB are grateful to Justin Crosby for his 4 years of service to the Tri-Town community and we are honored to present him with the first Youth Asset Builder Award. Congratulations Justin!