ST on Health: Youth Services of Tulsa, a Crucial Nonprofit in Our City for More Than Four Decades
On this edition of StudioTulsa on Health, guest host John Schumann speaks with James Walker, who's been the executive director of Youth Services of Tulsa (or YST) for 14 years now. A nonprofit United Way agency dating back to 1969, YST is, per its website, "committed to fostering a community atmosphere that values youth as resources. We provide innovative services and activities designed to increase self-discovery and instill positive core values and decision-making skills that will keep youth safe and allow them to lead healthy and productive lives. Our programs are based on the needs and input of youth, family, and the community, and are recognized as national models for quality and creativity.... Youth Services of Tulsa is devoted to advocacy for youth." Walker -- who's actually set to retire at the end of June, and who's been working in the social services field for more than 40 years -- tells us that YST serves some 18,000 Tulsa-area kids each year. The agency began as a church-run coffee shop in downtown Tulsa, but it's now a multi-facility agency offering formal counseling programs, an adolescent emergency "Safe Place" shelter, an Independent Living Program for youth in foster care as well as a Health Education and Prevention Program for high-risk youth, and a Transitional Living Program for homeless youth to learn life skills in order to become independent. YST also provides street outreach services and programs/meetings at various Tulsa schools; it works with our local juvenile justice system to provide early intervention, service referrals, diversion programs, and both support and education for juvenile offenders who are returning to the community. Moreover, YST also offers art courses, leadership classes, job training, LGBT-friendly gatherings, educational outreach regarding sexual orientation, and health information as well as medical resources. Walker tells us about these vitally important activities on today's show.