2 Days Celebrates Youth Empowerment & Reducing Violence
By Dwayne Brown, Dep. Dir. for Middle School Programs of St. Nicks Alliance
St Nicks Alliance held its first Youth Summit & Resource Fair in mid April. Over 350 youth and community members attended the unprecedented. The purpose of the gathering was to raise awareness about issues affecting the North Brooklyn community, educate the community, acknowledge youth leaders, and showcase youth Service Learning projects.
Aysia Echevarra stated, “Adults don’t understand how important after school programs and summer camp are to us. They keep us out of the streets and away from violence. I don’t want to be the next statistic.”
By design, the summit was broken up into two days each with distinct differences: Friday Night Lights and Super Saturday. On Friday night, youth from Williamsburg Beacon, Sumner Community, Cooper Park Community Center, and Williamsburg Community Center presented their mini-documentaries focused on ending youth violence to a packed audience. The projects offered youth opportunities to use creativity and 21st century technology skills while empowering them to become stewards and advocates for social change as it relates to youth violence. “On Friday when we performed our step during on gun violence PSA, I was really happy. I feel that step is a great thing to do with your friends,” said Caitlin Molina. Youth from our SONYC program @ MS 577 exhibited their artistic abilities through art gallery style presentation where 10 paintings were on display for all to see.
On Saturday, youth had the opportunity to participate in various workshops with topics ranging from community leadership, police brutality, gender equality, sexual assault, and mock interviews. Sajed Malik Ali Muhammad from the SONYC program @ BWCC stated “the event was wonderful! I learned many different skills on how to interview for a job. I am better prepared to interview for a job, I am ready!”
A talent show and presentation of the Youth Leadership Awards brought the Youth Summit to a celebratory close. The Youth Leadership Awards acknowledged those young people who have given their time and energies to initiating change projects focused on improving the lives of others. Jordan Husbands, a 17-year-old who attends Williamsburg Beacon said, “Receiving an award for leadership has reinstated that there is always someone watching all the great things you do. My advice to others is never give up on what you want in life.” The Talent Show offered: youth performing poems, step and dance routines, and rap songs. The Glamorous Barbies, our citywide recognized dance group from the Greenpoint Beacon, ended the weekend on a high note.