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Leaders of Tomorrow: Noah Block

Author: Judith M. Wilson
November, 2017 Issue

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 Noah Block knows what it’s like to feel helpless and disconnected. A victim of bullying that began when he was in fourth grade, Block, 18, developed emotional problems that left him angry and depressed. That changed when he was 14 and had to do community service for school. He discovered YMCA Marin County Youth Court and began to feel that he could make a difference in the world. Since then, he’s helped scores of young people get back their power and reclaim their lives. 

Block has served as a juror, bailiff and advocate in youth court, and in August, he sat in the judge’s chair to hear his last case before leaving for freshman year at Goucher College in Maryland. “Offenders usually came in upset that they got busted,” he says. He explains to them that attending youth court is their last chance to go through the system without it permanently affecting their lives. He reports that youth court recidivism is only 8 percent, and he advises young people to ask for help if they need it. “The first step is always to ask for help. People are there. You just have to find them,” he says. He credits Youth Court Director Don Carney for allowing him to grow and expand his horizons. “It’s been an amazing experience for the past four years. It’s fundamentally changed me as a human being,” he observes. 

Block, of San Anselmo, has also served as a member of Marin’s Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Commission, a board member of the Marin Chapter of the Marin Civil Liberties union and secretary of the Marin County Youth Commission, where he helped change Marin County’s social host accountability ordinance. Before, families could pay a fine and didn’t learn from the experience. Now they have to participate in a restorative justice program. “I hope it will prevent unnecessary deaths of young people,” he says. 

In addition, he helped save the Tamalpais union High School District’s wellness program by circulating a petition that got 600 signatures in two days. He points out that Marin County has high teen suicide and binge-drinking rates, and says, “The Wellness Center may have very possibly saved lives.” 

Block takes pride in working as part of a community to make positive changes. “I think it’s important to give young people an opportunity to serve.”

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