YOUTHanasia Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit community service organization for high school students in the Greater New Orleans area. Kimberly Byas-Dilosa established the YOUTHanasia Foundation, as a movement rather than an organization, on September 1, 1997. She was prompted to action by skyrocketing statistics and college professors who pinpointed New Orleans as a desolate murder capital. Byas then took action and decided to help save her community.
Byas utilized those she felt had unlimited, untapped energy and creativity – high school students. New Orleans loses someone between the ages of 14 to 19 to violent death or incarceration daily. In addition, 19% of all births in the city are to young women between the ages of 15 – 19. Thus, the creation of YOUTHanasia Foundation, Inc. was not a desire, but it was a necessity. Its ironic name was coined to mark the annihilation of contributors to youth delinquency – violence, illiteracy, teen pregnancy, stagnancy and ignorance.
YOUTHanasia Foundation, Inc. is the umbrella for innovative youth intervention programs such as the Citywide High School task Force, Self Respect Extravaganza and the Citywide High School Explosion. The Foundation provides programs to keep youth off of the streets, out of trouble and out of harm’s way.
YOUTHanasia believes that community improvement and preservation lies in nurturing those who will control it in the future. They specifically developed the Citywide High School Task Force to promote the involvement of young people in community affairs. The Task Force is comprised of students in grades 9 – 12 from public and private school throughout the Greater New Orleans area. They meet on Saturdays to discuss community problems and to create and implement community service projects to combat these problems. The members look beyond personal differences and unite to address the issues confronting their community as a whole.
The young people are creative and innovative in their approaches. Among other projects in their Violence Eradication, Health Awareness, Education Advocacy, Recreation Advocacy, Cultural Arts Awareness and Operation Clean Up, they have refurbished a playground, prepared and served meals to homeless teens in the New Orleans Drop-In Center. YOUTHanasia has also held a “Play Day” for the young patients of Children’s Hospital, a “Tournament of Champions” to help fourth graders prepare for the LEAP and painted patient rooms at the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital. YOUTHanasia developed the annual Self-Respect Extravaganza in an effort to combat teenage pregnancy through self-improvement and education. This summer, YOUTHanasia held a literacy enrichment camp for inner city kids. The youth Task Force members served as camp counselors.
YOUTHanasia has collaborated with the FiYiYi Mardi Gras Indian Tribe and the Backstreet Cultural Museum to provide inner city kids with free school supplies. The Foundation also participates in the Louisiana Nature Center’s “Helping Hands Day.” Their intervention success is evident in its results; 100 % of all graduates have gone on to college or the armed forces.