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Friday, May 15, 2015

Youth programs at BronxWorks aim to foster responsibility and civic-mindedness.  Issues of homelessness and housing insecurity, youth violence, and a dearth of high-quality sexual health education in City schools are concerns for which youth served by BronxWorks seek solutions at both a community and a policy level.  BronxWorks youth leader Justin Gyamsi has done just that. A 17-year-old New York City public school student, Justin is a participant in the Youth Sexual Health Promotion Program at BronxWorks and has met with city and state legislators, their staff, and New York City Department of Education representatives in recent months to advocate for better sexual health education in City schools.  Just this year, he has had the opportunity to meet Daymond John, the founder of FUBU and a Shark Tank investor, and attend President Obama’s public launch of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative at Lehman College at the beginning of May.

An Anti-Gang Violence & Health Summit at the Classic Community Center in April was devoted to discouraging young people from joining gangs, with presentations from former gang members on the overall harmful impact of gang activity on the community.  This summit was sponsored by the BronxWorks Classic Steppers, a dance group which performed and also made a presentation.  The step team, comprised of elementary and middle school students residing near BronxWorks’ Classic Community Center, will perform at the BronxWorks June 2nd Annual Gala, and will participate in a June 20th competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

The It Starts With Us! Youth Power Summit at the Betances Community Center in late March gathered South Bronx youth to explore creative ways to lead, organize, and speak out to strengthen their communities.  Fifteen workshops at the summit probed subjects ranging from developing healthy relationships, sexual health education, and constructive ways to navigate social media as a young adult.

Student leaders in BronxWorks’ Sexual Health Promotion Through Youth Leadership Program are organizing to make their voices heard in current City government discussions on improving sexual health education in public schools.  Educators are seeking to persuade the City Council to enforce a mandate, often downplayed and ignored, to strengthen sexual health education in city schools.  Their rationale in document form is one of the proposals selected for upcoming review by the Council.

The various programs at BronxWorks receiving the support of youth leaders are also greatly assisted by organizations and other benefactors who contribute to us.  Most recently, for instance, Doubletree Hotels, part of the Hilton organization, donated 200 towels to The Living Room/Safe Haven facilities for street homeless people.

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