2016 Fall Intern Maddy Poehlein ’18 Empowers Local LGBTQ+ Youth At Triple Point

pop-the-bubble-internships

img_4244My internship this semester has been working with Triple Point, a local LGBTQ+ support group for teenagers ages 13-18. Triple Point runs through a greater organization called the Children’s Home Society of Washington which provides services for children and families with different programs throughout the state. Triple Point was started 10 years ago when the need for an LGBTQ+ youth support group in the Walla Walla area became apparent. Throughout my internship this semester, I have gone to the support group every week, helped plan and prepare for the 10 year celebration dance, and helped with data entry for the program.

On an average day in group, we eat food and talk about a wide variety of relevant issues as well as personal circumstances that the youth are facing. In addition, we invite people to come speak with the kids about fun as well as educational topics. In November, a local drag queen came in for two weeks and shared the the local drag culture with the youth. We also bought a huge amount of makeup and were given tutorials about how drag queens and kings apply makeup. The youth loved this and loved meeting an adult in the local LGBTQ+ community. Also in November, a researcher from the Center for Children and Youth Justice came to gather information from the youth about experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in children’s administering, foster, juvenile justice and detention centers, and other state systems. The youth expressed ideas both from personal experience and experiences of peers about many ways these systems can be improved for LGBTQ+ and all youth.

triplepointdance

In October, we had a 10th anniversary dance with a rainbow theme. Prior to the dance, we went to local food vendors and asked for donations for our event and planned the decorations. In the week leading up to it, we made a rainbow balloon arch and gathered all sorts of rainbow decorations. The night of the dance, all of the volunteers arrived early and set up the venue with rainbow streamers over the doors and all sorts of balloon arrangements. The youth arrived around 8pm and there was eating, talking, dancing, twister playing and fun until 10pm when the dance was over. Overall, the dance was a huge success and the youth had a really good time. It felt wonderful to provide them with a safe space to be themselves and also have fun.

Throughout my internship I have gained an understanding for what it is like to work with LGBTQ+ youth. They face many challenges but are also very vibrant, unique, articulate, funny individuals who know so much about the issues they care about. In addition, I have gotten to learn from my supervisor and work with many other wonderful volunteers from the Walla Walla community. This internship has been a great opportunity to feel more connected to the community and learn a lot about circumstances for LGBTQ+ youth in the area. Even though my internship is ending this semester, I am going to continue volunteering for Triple Point because it has been very educational and rewarding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *