Jewish Heritage Fund
Back To News

Churchill Backstretch Teens Poised to Make Difference

The group will be presenting their work during a community dinner Jan. 29.

Edited Press Release | BloodHorse

The passionate teenage children of backstretch workers, members of the “Creciendo Juntos” youth group facilitated by the Backside Learning Center, are making waves with a project aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of sex and labor trafficking. The group, ages 13-17, will be presenting their work during a community dinner they are hosting on Jan. 29 at the Backside Learning Center’s satellite location at Beechmont Baptist Church.

Creciendo Juntos (“Growing Up Together,”) is a group focused on empowering the Hispanic teenagers who are part of the Churchill Downs’ backstretch community, to become healthy and effective leaders, fostering a sense of community and activism. The program is made possible thanks to the Jewish Heritage Fund in partnership with the BLC.

The program, which is now in its third year, consists of three phases. At first, youth participated in 10 therapy sessions in which group members had the chance to talk about their mental health and learn from one another, particularly related to the impacts on young people during COVID-19.

The second phase, “Emotional support and learning about community organizing,” included taking field trips and engaging with Louisville’s Hispanic community leaders.

The final phase is, “to encourage our students to go out in the community and make a positive impact.”

Since its inception, Creciendo Juntos has forged lasting friendships among its members while becoming a force for positive community change.

“It has been so rewarding seeing the kids grow in their leadership skills and confidence,” said social services manager Jennifer Dutton. “When we first began, in 2021, the kids were very shy and seemed so unsure. I have seen the kids grow their voices and feel comfortable and safe in voicing their thoughts.”

The group’s dedication to educating and empowering their generation demonstrates the potential for youth-led initiatives to make a lasting impact. The BLC is looking forward to seeing youth leadership at play during their event Jan. 29.

“When we created this program, our main goal was to create a team of youths who felt powerful and knew they could create changes in their communities—we’re accomplishing that,” said Dutton.

Anyone interested in attending is invited to the dinner and presentation at Louisville’s Beechmont Baptist Church. The event will start at 6 p.m.