Jessie Naidu, and her experience of Next Up Calgary 2014-2014, in her own words:
I have been involved in learning about social justice since graduate school and have had an interest in doing social justice work in some capacity in my life. After grad school, I landed a great job in health promotion strategic development, where I feel social justice is present at times but must be more prominent in order for us to have a truly just system. Before Next Up,
I felt an internal struggle between my commitment to social justice and working in a machine that at time had felt somewhat “status quo”. Nextup has been the perfect opportunity for me to connect with folks in the community with whom I could learn and collaborate with regard to social and environmental justice in our community. The program has empowered me to bring social justice into my work in health promotion as well as connected me with the people and spaces I need to engage in social justice work when I am off the clock.
For instance, knowledge of strategic communication tools such as the Overton Window Theory introduced by Ricardo Acuna of the Parkland institute has provided me with the tools I need to engage in concrete dialogue Moreover, the discourse generated by my brilliant cohort has enhanced my understanding of social and environmental justice and as such, strengthened my arguments when speaking with those in my personal and professional spaces who may have previously been all too prepared to write my opinions off as the ramblings of a young coloured girl. In this sense, the facilitators, presenters and participants, Nextup has acted like a Spartan Phalanx of Social Justice for me. I sincerely believe that the dedicated and dynamic people involved in Nextup Calgary will play in integral role in facilitating positive change in our community and I am proud to be among this group.