Watts YouthSource participants improve and unify their community by painting a mural about unity during “Operation Watts Is Worth It”
Approximately 10 youth from the Youth Opportunity Movement Watts YouthSource Center pitched in to help paint murals, build benches and put up fence screens during “Operation Watts Is Worth It,” an event designed to beautify and unify the community.

“Although it was kind of tough, it felt good, coming out, helping the environment get better,” said Daize Ayon, 16. “I feel the schools need this.”

From June 21 to June 28, youth from the Watts YouthSource Center participated in community beautification events throughout Watts at locations such as Nickerson Gardens, Jordan High School, 99th Street Elementary and Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary. The “Mass Deployment” event was held by The Mission Continues, an organization dedicated to empowering veterans to make an impact in their communities.

The week-long program, previously held in Detroit and Atlanta, brought in 80 veterans from the local area and other parts of the country to work on the service projects.

“It’s about making an impact in the community, to increase leadership skills, to connect with everyone and the community they work and live in,” said Behkie Aguilar, a senior city impact manager with the Mission Continues. The group selected the Watts area this year because “We knew there was a lot of need here and a lot of passion,” she said.

Watts YouthSource Center participant Trinity McKinney, 18, said she enjoyed the hands-on nature of the projects and as a resident of Watts she will be able to appreciate the impact in the neighborhood.

“It’s good because we get to help our community and give back,” she said.

Learn more about EWDD Youth Services and the YouthSource Centers

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of 7/2/2018. Read this issue and more.