In a few days, more than a million young people will gather with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day.On July 7, volunteers and juveniles incarcerated at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar blessed some of the youth volunteers who will travel to Brazil for that event. The Jesuit and youth volunteers who were especially blessed that morning will be representing youth from Los Angeles who are locked up and cannot be there for this international event that will bring young people together from all over the world.During the Mass that morning, more than a hundred letters from youth in the three juvenile halls in Los Angeles were also blessed. These incarcerated young people have been writing letters to the pope, telling him that their voices also count. At the blessing at the end of Mass, two young girls put their hands on the shoulders of the youth who will travel to World Youth Day. These kids prayed that their silent voices in prison will also be heard in Brazil: voices of kids who have never even been given a first chance; voices of kids who started using crystal meth when they were nine years old; voices of kids who will spend their whole lives locked up; voices of kids who are afraid of expressing how they know they are going to die in prison.World Youth Day: It symbolizes hope for youth who have dreams for the future. If our youth have no dreams, there is no future for anyone.This last month I attended both a Jesuit university graduation and a Jesuit high school graduation. At Santa Clara University, I watched as David received the diploma from the hands of Father Michael Engh, president. This visionary Jesuit took the chance to give a kid who had been locked up the opportunity to receive a four-year scholarship, worth more than $160,000, after he finished his time in prison. The judge had said in court that if he were given a scholarship to Santa Clara University, he would go home that day. A dream came true, for someone who had been looking at a life sentence.David was given a chance to dream, to have a future. The youth volunteers from juvenile hall know how the kids locked up also have dreams, just like David. The youth that will gather in the plaza to hear the pope in Brazil have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to be with other young people in order to dream. Many of the kids at Nidorf Juvenile Hall have never been on an airplane, never been outside of their city, and have never met any young people from other countries with different dreams for a future.Our volunteers, including a young Jesuit from Los Angeles, will carry letters to Pope Francis that express the dreams and voices of kids who have lived in the jungles of our inner cities. Many of the letters they have written to him also ask him for a favor: to pray for a legislative bill in Sacramento, SB 260, which would give the dreams for a future back to kids who have been sentenced to die in prison.The pope certainly realizes how fortunate the youth are who can come to Brazil. Each of these young people will represent so many others: youth who live in war-torn countries with dreams for a future of peace; youth who dream of their families not dying with terminal diseases, where the poor will receive adequate health care; youth who fear that they will live the rest of their lives behind prison bars dreaming of a future when they will be with their families once more. But these letters will represent the silent voices of our kids who cannot be there. These letters, brought by their representatives, will speak to Pope Francis of their dreams for the future.We pray for all youth of the world who will gather in Brazil. May their voices be connected to young people everywhere so that one day we will have a world in which all youth have an opportunity to dream, and that those dreams for a future to provide for their families will come true. We know that Jesus especially walked with those on the margins, beaten down, yet never giving up on dreaming of a better future. May those gathered in Brazil pray for those young people we can so easily forget about. And finally, I pray this: that when our small group from Los Angeles hands over those letters from these locked-up kids, may this Jesuit pope hold fast to these letters, and may he pray for those kids, many of whom have never been given that first chance. Father Mike Kennedy is executive director and founder of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that promotes healing and restoration of families of victims and survivors of crime, as well as offenders. He is co-chaplain at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0719/kennedy/{/gallery}