Working with our Youth: Marissa, AMPLIFY & The 3 Waves Program Specialist 

By Marissa Martinez 

"As a creative writer passionate about education and representation, working with AACI’s AMPLIFY and 3Waves program is almost too good to be true. I grew up in East San Jose and I found my passion for the arts as a theater technician at Evergreen Valley High School. Having graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.A. in English and Theater Arts, I am ecstatic to be using my arts and community experience in my position at AACI.

I especially love my work with AMPLIFY because I believe the arts are essential in youth education and I believe that art is a vehicle for confidence and identity. Working with youth has tested me for sure—did you know that getting 11-year-olds to write more than one sentence is like pulling teeth?—but it has challenged me to connect with the youth in ways that they can be more comfortable with. I have had youth fight me on writing—but 5 months later, the same youth were happily telling me their story ideas. The transformation and growth that happens in AMPLIFY is amazing to witness and the youth are pretty fun to hang out with, too!

In a similar vein, the 3Waves program gives me the opportunity to educate middle schoolers and high schoolers on substance use and resource planning. We go out to schools and give an informational presentation with all the facts and resources, but the real take-away is seeing teens connect the dots between substances, violence, and community and realizing that their personal actions can affect others. I also enjoy contributing to the 3Waves Magazine; being a writer, it’s amazing to see something I wrote to be printed and distributed to a large audience, plus the health and wellness topics truly help individuals and families.

Outside of AACI, I’m currently working on a short play about figuring out life in your twenties and another creative project revolving around Filipino immigration. I also like hanging out at local open mics, watching movies, and taking pictures of ice cream cones. Without a doubt, the relationships I’ve made with everyone on the AMPLIFY and 3Waves teams (and in the Wellness Department) have been so fun and so genuine! I’m very proud to not only be working alongside these people, but also making waves in the community with them, too."

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