Focus Area Blogs

Check out our 10 focus area blogs and read below for more info!

Abilities • Animals  Children  Elders Environment  Food Justice • Gender + Sexuality  Homelessness + Housing • Human Rights  Public Health 


The Abilities focus area seeks to eradicate systems within policy, media, and relationships that inhibit individuals based on their ability. We aim to help others better understand that equality can be achieved by fostering a culture of respect in our actions and words. To be an effective ally, it is necessary to recognize that most of us will experience some form of disability in our lifetime, whether it be physical, mental, social or emotional, and it is important to learn how to engage in dialogue with and about people who are differently abled. This dialogue serves as a platform for advocating for equal access and accommodation until it becomes the standard, while actively addressing stigma and empowering individuals. In the past, we have partnered with Perkins School for the Blind, TILL’s Autism Support Center, and the Northeast Arc.


The Animals focus area seeks to promote self-reflection in relation to animal rights and welfare along with conscious consumerism in solidarity with the mission of FYSOP.  Through the lens of education and direct service opportunities, first-years, staff leaders, and community partners come together within the Greater Boston community to encourage behaviors that positively impact cohabitation between animals and humans.  This focus area will encourage greater understanding of the complex interdependence between animals and humans.  From nearby animal shelters, wildlife rescues and sanctuaries, to local zoos, we explore meaningful ways to invoke change and spark meaningful conversations within our communities.


The Children’s focus area seeks to create and to promote an environment that fosters the growth and success of youth from infancy to young adulthood. We seek to address matters that include the influence of media, mental and physical health, familial stability, and social determinants of poverty by addressing developmental risk factors. FYSOP participants will immerse themselves into the Boston community through education, reflection and service by connecting with youth at schools and community centers and assisting educators and nonprofit organizations for the upcoming academic year and their events. In the past, we have partnered with Hanscom Air Force Base, Cradles to Crayons, Welcome Baby, and local YMCAs.


The mission of the elders focus area is to examine the physical, mental, and societal implications of the aging process in a constantly evolving world. We will open a discussion on what aging actually looks like and understand elders as active members of our society. Aging is a natural process in which we gain powerful life experiences. However, age often separates elders from the general population, when in actuality they deserve respect and inclusion in society. In order to celebrate the lives of elders, we have partnered with Compass on the Bay, Ethos, Rogerson Communities and many other community partners, who encourage and support elders to lead active, independent, and vibrant lives.


The environment focus area’s mission is to cultivate a purpose behind sustainable lifestyles, informing each interaction we have with our natural environment. We are exploring a person’s right to a clean and safe environment, the Earth’s inherent right for respectful treatment, and the interconnectedness between the environment and its inhabitants. The current impacts and future ongoing damages of climate change underlay all of these themes. We have partnered with community organizations who protect Boston’s nature as well as inspire sustainability within the city, such as the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston Nature Center, and the Esplanade Association.

Food Justice

The Food Justice focus area advocates for a healthy, affordable, sustainable, and equitable food system. From worker to consumer, each person is a necessary and valued component of the food chain, with a fundamental right to produce, distribute, and access good food. This focus area aims to promote the visibility and dignity of each interdependent community that contributes to the structural food system. By deconstructing the food system and addressing systemic challenges, we will promote sustainable solutions with community partners to achieve social change. In past years, we have partnered with The Food Project, ReVision Urban Farm and The Greater Boston Food Bank.

Gender + Sexuality

The Gender and Sexuality focus area will highlight the ways in which we form our identities, and how we find community. We will inspire students to create a safer environment for women, queer, and trans people, as well as examine the intersections of race, class, and ability in regards to identity formation and community building. Our service revolves around a variety topics, including sexual assault, body image, and media representation to provide a holistic view of how we shape our identities. The service we do will enable the first year students to educate their peers on these issues and challenge societal norms that oppress various communities. We will provide a space for first year students to engage in self-discovery, as well as the opportunity to build their own communities of support.

Homelessness + Housing

The Homelessness and Housing focus area aims to acknowledge and address detrimental attitudes and stereotypes towards individuals experiencing homelessness. Participants will educate themselves on, engage with, and reflect upon the homelessness crisis occurring in the Boston area.  Homelessness can happen to anyone due to the loss of a family or friend support system. Causes for homelessness can range from mental and physical health conditions to economic challenges including foreclosure or forced eviction. Homelessness affects a wide range of people. This FYSOP, we will be focusing on several populations experiencing homeless. While often times veterans are visible on the street, there is another population referred to as “the hidden homeless.” This population includes mothers with children who look for emergency shelters, as well as youth who find respite in the care of the friends or extended family. In the past, we have partnered with La Casa Nueva Vida, The Barbara McInnis House, and Rosie’s Place. Participants interacted with those who are experiencing homelessness, prepared meals and aided in custodial work.

Human Rights

In an effort to breakdown what divides us, we aim to facilitate conversations as advocates of empowerment for all populations. We strive to clarify the common misconceptions that surround human rights and shed light on the fact that violations of basic human needs happen everywhere. We will explore the connections between access to fundamental human needs, race, class, citizenship, and identity. By exposing ourselves to environments of vast cultural richness with glaring lack of opportunity, we seek to showcase the framework of teamwork within the Greater Boston community. The system we live in is inherently not equal; the world we live in wrongly treats many as less human than others. After taking a walk in the shoes of individuals in other populations, we hope that participants will recognize that they too have a place in this community of understanding and respect for all cultures, and that this actualization will lay the groundwork in allying ourselves with the Greater Boston community. We are thankful to our community partners for sharing in our mission.

Public Health

Public Health concentrates on maintaining a healthy life in three different lenses: physical, societal, and environmental. We aim to educate participants within those lenses that include mental health stigma, the relationship between identity and well-being, and the access to resources that promote healthy living. Leading a fulfilling life includes being cognizant of your choices and recognizing disparities within your communities. Activities may include harm-reduction education, providing local produce to low-income neighborhoods, and supporting those denied a healthy life. In the past, participants have worked with Children’s AIDS Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Community Servings.


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