ImMEDIAte Justice Retreat
ImMEDIAte Justice has begun a revolutionary summer. Earlier this month, our summer program kicked off with a three day retreat. Mentors had spent months planning the retreat so there was a lot of anticipation and excitement about meeting everyone and getting the program started. More than 30 mentors and mentees met up in the Pacific Palisades where they shared laughs, hugs, and knowledge for an awesome weekend of workshops, discussions, and improvs focused on sex education .
Day 1 of the retreat was an introduction to the summer program where youth got began to learn about their bodies. Mentees were asked to think about their bodies and their experiences through art in a creative Candy Shop workshop. Everyone broke out into groups to talk about what their “candy shop” would look like! After many oooh’s and ahhh’s of candy shop talk, youth were given an opportunity to to fill a fishbowl with any questions about sex/sexuality. Youth anonymously filled the fishbowl with questions they were always too afraid to ask and questions that were “taboo”. Everyone got a chance to pick a question and discuss collectively with ImMEDIAte Justice.
Day 2 was a busy day full of good food, more workshops, and fun. Everyone was up early to learn about media and messages. A lot of great ideas and discussion came up as mentees discussed what large messages family, school, and religion teach them. The message ImMEDIAte Justice came to realize, is that media literacy is important.
After a break, everyone returned to learn from Pati Garcia in their workshop, Igniting the Revolution Within: A Sex Positive Approach to Healing. The workshop definitely defined what radical sex education looks like. Mentors and mentees learned alongside each other about orgasms, anal breathing, heart pleasuring, and anatomy. People shared about their experiences with doctors during pap smears. This conversation got mentors and mentees thinking about ways to feel empowered and knowledgeable during a doctor’s visit.
All the anal breathing and playing with specula got everyone tired, so they gathered for a hearty meal. After the meal, the Museum of Desire workshop combined elements of improv to illustrate what desire means in popular culture. In this workshop, mentors used props and became sculptures to demonstrate desire. Mentees toured this museum and deconstructed what each sculptures’ desire was. Mentees collaboratively titled each sculpture in the Museum of Desire. After they toured the entire museum, mentees got a chance to construct creative sculptures in groups to show the mentors the desires that they see in culture. This gave the mentees a chance to creatively think about ways to send their own messages by using their bodies and working together.
The day continued with a writing exercise that gave everyone a chance to process what was being shared. The Youth Led Healing and Survival Strategies exercise gave everyone a chance to think about gender, consent, healthy relationships, desire, and messages about one’s body and sexuality. These writing prompts would become a springboard for the youths sex ed films. The day ended with performance skits and lots of laughs. There’s is not much to say about that night except, you had to be there.
Day 3 of the retreat came too soon. The day was dedicated to the ropes course, which is when everyone was given the opportunity to climb up a tree and jump out, simple as that. The ropes course was empowering, challenging, scary, and exciting all at the same time. Mentees and mentors went through two different ropes courses where they could (if they chose to) individually climb a tree and reach for a goal or collaboratively climb with a friend and walk across a rope, all while being strapped in and harnessed by supportive friends. The rope course tested one’s mind, strength, and physical capabilities.
Feeling inspired and exhausted, everyone took off their helmets and unbuckled to close out the retreat. Everyone gathered hand-in-hand to share their feelings and thoughts after the final activity for the retreat. Everyone received a bracelet to symbolize that “we got this”. Words really cannot grasp what was said in that circle as everyone stood holding hands, teary eyed, in solidarity. The retreat came to a close with a shout. This is what we said:
“We have a duty to fight for our freedom. We have a duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing lose but our chains.”