Youth Development and Service within the Community

Having been born and raised in Brooklyn, New York I have had to face many hurdles in reaching my goals to be a college graduate. Over the course of my life I have had the fortune of having great mentors who exposed me to the arts and physical fitness. It is because of this that I was able to become an NCSF certified personal trainer, played on a college basketball team, and have earned a college degree. Because of this my goal is to give back to young people in my community by designing and creating a summer program called Universal Expressions. The mission of this program is to expose young people to different outlets that will expand their view to more than what is in Brooklyn.

The purpose of the Universal ExpressionsSummer Program: 

Across large urban school districts at risk youth face many factors that can contribute to whether or not they finish high school. Students face homelessness, hunger, lack of motivation, poor attendance due to circumstances, failed state exams, and feel they don’t fit in. 

The purpose for which this summer program is formed is to be a support system for at risk pre-teen and teenage youth. With the factors that contribute to high school dropout rates disproportionately effecting young men of color, interventions must be put in place to foster individuals to develop their skills. In partnership with local not for profits a group of teens will be chosen to participate in the Universal Expressions Summer Program.  The program will focus on the developing the whole child rather than individual aspects. 

Each participant will take part in a three-pronged program (pillars): educate, collaborate, and serve. Program participants will be mentored academically, athletically, and spiritually (good deeds). They will then become role models and inspire others to do the good work.  

Each participant will receive a gym membership, summer athletic gear, transportation pass, library card, reading journal, and art/cultural pass membership. 

Over the course of 8 weeks participants will take part in several hundred hours of developmental programs: 

Educate: 

The participants will be educated in an academic setting using the city as their classroom. They will take part in course work remediation with tutors if necessary. All participants will sign up for a library card and maintain a summer reading journal. In addition to the reading journal participants will be exposed to cultural locations across the city of New York. New York City is the cross roads of culture and yet young people do not know what is out there. This program will expose students to develop culturally. 

Collaborate: 

All participants will take part in mentoring sessions being exposed to athletic training to enhance their athletic and health skills. Under the guidance of a certified personal trainer participants will take part in daily workouts to enhance their skills so that they can be better prepared to play on teams. Participants will also take part in healthy eating workshops to better understand the impact of junk food and the importance of healthy eating.

All participants will also take part in mentoring sessions led by industry experts in the fields that make up the New York City economy. This will give participants the opportunity to get to know what is out there and become aware of the criteria they need for the field/career that interests them most. 

Serve: 

All participants will take part in a service learning project with a local not for profit. This experience will serve as a learning tool, enhancing the overall experience of the summer program. Program participants, will learn the importance of community partnerships, the intricacies of gardening, and the benefit of serving and enhancing the appearance of our community. The overall goal of this component is to work collaboratively with the community to beautify the neighborhood where the participants live, while simultaneously providing participants with a hands-on learning experience and equipping them with the instruction needed to plan and implement community service projects.