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Community Celebrates Youth at 1st Annual Youth Matters Gala and Showcase

July 13, 2023

More than 100 youth and adults gathered on Thursday, June 8, 2023 for the first annual Youth Matters Gala & Showcase. The event was created by the youth leaders of NAZA’s Youth In Action! to showcase their work over the past year and provide a space for youth and adults to support and learn from each other.

“I appreciated the event as a time to reflect and share my growth as part of Youth in Action! with my family, friends, and mentors.” – Sark, Youth Community Leader

Youth leaders Sark, Itzel, and Chase spent hours planning every detail of the event, including the theme, decorations, music, activity schedule, recognition ceremony, catering, and speeches. The event featured live music from a band of local youth, a gallery showcasing youth artwork and highlights of youth-led community projects, and interactive activities.

“It was fun to plan, but at times it was difficult because we were starting our ideas from scratch, and we had to work hard to make them come to life. I also think because of that it was very enjoyable.” – Itzel, Youth Community Leader

The youth designed activities for guests to participate in that focused on collaborating, networking, and sharing ideas. Adult participants learned about how they can better support youth by incorporating youth voice and youth leadership in decision-making.

There were also activities built around the Individual Growth Practices from Nashville’s Vision for Holistic Youth Development, and simple things you can do to integrate the growth practices into your daily life.

“I was so proud of the awesome young people that participated. They shared inspirational stories about their involvement with NAZA that was just confirmation of how important [NAZA’s] work is to Nashville.” –Linda Harrison, NPL’s Assistant Director for Education and Literacy

To learn more about NAZA’s Youth In Action! initiative and opportunities for youth to get involved in their community, visit or contact

Guest writer is Rachel Pendragon, Communications & Events Manager for the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA)

Photos by Rebecca Stone


Andrea, Allison, Katy, Ed, Matt, and Eddie work together to share all the awesome things NPL does with as many people as they can!