2024 Youth Council testimonials

Youth Council

Youth Council members along with Mid-City CAN staff were at City Hall on May 1 for the FY25 proposed budget hearing to advocate for funding for the youth's City Heights Urban Village Revitalization Campaign that includes Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park.

The youth displayed passion, dedication, sacrifice, courage and many amazing qualities as they addressed the council members and let them know their disappointment in Mayor Todd Gloria's budget that does not reflect the values of fairness, equity, and justice for all.

Thank you to Ashley, Karlita, Nidal, Zamzam, Tanya, Judith, Leo, Stephany, Niya, Denley, Abigail, and Obidullah for attending the budget hearing, and to Youth Council members unable to attend who have worked hard on the campaign! NOTE: Mia's statement was ready by Transportation Justice Organizer Lupe.

The following are the youth's statements to the councilmembers. Youth Organizer Victor Ponce spoke first followed by the youth.



Good evening councilmembers. Hello my name is Victor Ponce and I am the Youth Organizer at Mid-City CAN. I am here today on behalf of our Youth Council and our CBA partners. 

I want to start off by thanking those of you who supported us and listened to our Youth last year. We recognize and acknowledge that the city no longer has federal Covid funding that helped us in the past year and that it will be a difficult budget year.

However, we can’t accept the mayor's proposed budget because it isn’t balanced. It’s taking away what little our BIPOC communities had to fight incredibly hard for. We didn’t bring out all of these youth tonight because they wanted to take a fun field trip. We brought them out because they wanted to be out here fighting for their community and standing up to these injustices.

We call on the mayor and city council to listen to the voices of the community and to work towards creating a budget that reflects the values of fairness, equity, and justice for all. Anything less is a betrayal of the trust and responsibility that comes with serving as a public official.



Good evening, City Council members.

Just like a caterpillar needs a nurturing environment to transform into a beautiful butterfly, our Youth Council needs your support in order to grow and flourish to their full potential. Officer Jeremy Henwood Park is a vital resource for our community, providing a safe and welcoming space for our youth to gather and engage in positive activities.

By continuing to fund Officer Jeremy Henwood Park, you are investing in the future of our city and helping our young people spread their wings and soar. Let's work together to cultivate a community where our young leaders can truly blossom and make a positive impact on the world around them. Please consider the impact that your decision will have on the lives of our youth and the future of our community. Thank you for your continued support.



Hello city council and city council president. My name is Karla Navarro. I am 17 years old and a youth member at Mid-City CAN's Youth Council. As of last year the Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park campaign began. In the past few months, City Heights gained around 500 new residents due to the new housing developments. About more than half of the 500 residents are youth aged 18 and younger. Henwood Park is the closest family space available to them. With more plans to expand and make more housing, Henwood Park is our heart of City Heights, events in the park are held such as The Festival of Love, Day of the Dead, and Lunar New Year. However, it is unfair to our community member to have this park under poor condition, such as the bathrooms aren't accessible to our public, having patchy grass, and poor lighting at dark as well as having our play structures tied down with caution tape.

Recently Mayor Todd Gloria's proposed draft of next year budget is cutting down youth programming such as college career readiness workshops for youth and young women of color, community outreach and focus groups for youth, as well as canceling the Youth Care and Development Program which are areas that provide mental health counseling and trauma-informed care, and canceling contributions to the Community Equity Fund which provides multi-year grants to community-based organizations leading transformative racial equity-focused projects in the city. We ask that our city council take into consideration 2.5 million dollars into our park, and prevent cutting our youth programs. Thank you.



Hello my name is Tanya Pliego. I’m here as a member representing Mid-City CAN Youth Council. It’s time for you hear us out and to hear our community struggles, specifically regarding Officer Jeremy Henwood Park in City Heights where I was raised.

City Heights is an area full of diversity and different cultures. Throughout my childhood we did not have much; my parents weren’t really financially stable. They did not have the money to take us to Sea World or any different type of amusement parks. When we all wanted to do something fun and enjoy ourselves, we would go to Henwood Park. To be specific it was Henwood Park located in front of the police station.

This park was the setting for many cherished memories. I played, laughed, met new friends, and had family picnics. There was a recent time period where the playground was unusable for 2 years. Last year we initiated efforts to restore this community treasure.

However, the historic inequities and under investments in BIPOC communities has been an issue, and it has been hard for us. It’s not just the park that lacks the government funding, but the community itself. My mom chose to send me to Canyon Hills because she believed I had a brighter future there because they had better resources for my education. I have to wake up at 6 o’clock every morning just to catch my school bus to get me to school on time. As a school athlete I have traveled to different schools and neighborhoods and seen the disparities between those communities.

This isn’t necessarily an investment for myself, but for the youth of our community. According to the Office of Child and Youth Success our 92105 zip code has the second highest concentration of youth in the city and we are only growing. Recently we saw 500 new units built right down the street from the park and recently broke ground on even more apartments being built.

I have a younger sister who is age 11. by the time this project is done I might not be able to play anymore, but my younger sister can as well as other generation, will be able to enjoy this park.

I may be young, but I will not stop till my community has a park where they can play and make friendships. It’s time for you guys to see us and not just see us physically, but see us for our hopes and dreams and the passion that we have for this park.

Officer Henwood Park is also a memorial park for a fallen officer; not only would you be honoring our community by redoing this park, but you would be honoring his name, and keeping his memory alive. Start showing that you care about us and our area and our dreams and hopes with your actions and not your words; we are the future generation -- we are your future!



My name is Denley and I’m a youth advocate for Mid-City CAN. The City of San Diego has prioritized the police over people, especially communities of color for far too long. There’s no justification to keep dumping money into the police budget when the population of the city isn’t growing much and San Diego has a low crime rate for a major city.  Even in a deficit year we see that the police department is receiving more funding. It is entirely possible to invest in our neighborhoods if we prioritized people over putting even more money into something that really doesn’t need anymore funding. I think it’s also really important to point out the hypocrisy in calling yourself progressive but putting police over ordinary people. We ask that you allocate 2.5 million dollars to Officer Jeremy Henwood Park. Thank you for your time.



As a Sudanese teen, who has grown up fostering connections, throughout my experience in San Diego, I have witnessed how Henwood Park holds immense cultural significance not only for my community but for the entire City Heights neighborhood. It's truly beautiful to see the array of cultural events that take place at this park. Within the warm embrace of such a strong and vibrant community, we as residents of City Heights and Oak Park find a profound sense of unity, support, and belonging at Henwood Park. 

However, due to growing concerns about safety, especially during times when children are present and playing, the park no longer feels like a welcoming space where families can comfortably spend extended periods of time. That's why, we ask you to investigate into adding 2.5 million towards fixing and rebuilding this park so that we can bloom more. Thank you for your time.



Good evening Councilmembers, my name is Zamzam Fadhil and I’m here to advocate against the budget cuts. Last year we came down to these budget hearings. I specifically addressed concerns on the new apartments going up adjacent to our office and a block from the Jeremy Henwood Park. Since then those same apartments are now occupied by 500 community residents with 48% of them being youth.

Last month Mayor Todd Gloria joined the Council President Sean Elo Rivera at the opening of these apartments where expressed appreciation for the City Heights neighbors willingness to welcome new neighbors. Last week he was in City Heights for the groundbreaking of another 117 new homes where he said and I quote “This neighborhood is my family. I am proud of this community and I guarantee we will continue to do whatever we possibly can to make sure City Heights remains the very special place that it is.”

So I ask why do we have to plead for the city to not make cuts to our already vulnerable communities? How would you feel sending your children to a park with patchy grasses and screws all over the floor? Or The city that is supposed to serve you cutting your child’s afterschool program? This is the reality that families in City Heights live with.

We urge you to please restore the budget cuts to after school programs and we ask you to please fund our park revitalization project. Thank you.


Mia (read by Guadalupe):

Mid City-CAN has built the bridge between my two communities, Sherman Heights and City Heights. I live on the border between these two communities that lack resources and support, and attending an affluent school like Mission Bay High makes these disparities even more apparent. On the bus ride from Mission Bay to Sherman Heights I have watched the progression of the recently revitalized Tecolote Shores park in Mission Bay. The $4.1 million dollar makeover includes quote “swings, slides, rockers and merry-go-rounds for children to enjoy. There are also sensory toys, obstacle areas and even an inclusive, kid-friendly zip line.” It's aggravating to see how in areas like Mission Bay who are clearly more favored hence receiving more funding, are adding non-park features like a zip line while the requests to renovate parks like the City Heights' Henwood Park are constantly overlooked and neglected.

There needs to be more representation and funding provided by the City of San Diego for City Heights' outdoor recreational areas and Sherman Heights educational programs. It is unfair for youth within low-income communities to be forced to flee to white-populated schools that grant them a better education than the one provided within their own community. City Heights has grown into a blooming area that continues to gain many new low-income families with young children that need green spaces available to them. Henwood Park acts as the closest park to many families but due to its inability to meet safety guidelines, it has now become an area which these new families avoid. We demand $2.5 million dollars by June 10 from the San Diego City Council to revitalize Henwood Park and bring back the joy that it brought during its primary years.

Click here to read the June 7, 2024 Youth Council testimonials.

📷: View photos from the budget hearing by clicking here to visit our Flickr page.

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  • Ron Sanchez
    published this page 2024-06-12 14:10:24 -0700