Each year, Voices recognizes and rewards an exceptional young person who has advocated to make a difference in the community.
Our 2016 Julie Adler Raskind Youth Champion is:
Naudia Loftis is a 17-year-old senior at St. Martin DePorres and a resident of the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood, an area infamous for its high crime rate. Last year, assaults here were up by a quarter and homicide rates were on the rise. After losing her aunt and her cousin, Naudia has found strength in activism and fought back against the violence in her community. She became involved in Peace in the Hood, Inc., a non-profit, grassroots, empowerment-oriented afterschool program. There, she mentors neighborhood youth who are also facing violence and pressures to join local gangs. Last fall—on what would have been her cousin’s 32nd birthday—Naudia organized the Value Our Lives Rally, an anti-violence march, rally and vigil in Cleveland to encourage community involvement in efforts to end the killings that have blighted Cleveland this past summer. The event caught the attention of the local media and ended up attracting hundreds of participants. Naudia is also a prolific poet and is looking forward to studying business and journalism at one of the several colleges that have already accepted her. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for her.