More than 200 teens attended the 27th Annual Youth Action Convention on May 14th atPaceUniversity in Pleasantville. Sponsored by Family Services of Westchesters Youth Council, theBlackEnterpriseBRIDGE fund, the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation, and the Dammann Fund, this years event focused on the theme, You Have a Choice Use Your Voice.
The theme emphasizes the fact that youth are incredible change-makers who have the capacity to transform the world, noted Alma Evans, FSWs Program Coordinator of the Westchester County Youth Councils.
The keynote speaker, James Young, gave a very moving speech this year entitled Its Your Choice, which emphasized the need for adolescents to speak up when they are not treated appropriately. Young, an educator, activist and father who currently teaches atMonroeCollegein theBronx, knows a great deal about youth activism. At the age of 17 he started the first LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) youth group inWestchesterCountyat the Loft inWhite Plains. While working at the YMCA, he coordinated healing retreats for families affected by the attacks of 911. Young has also worked with youth groups at Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Back Door and Rockland Family Shelter.
Entertainment by Big Apple Playback Theater and teen-led workshops were among the other highlights of the convention. Seminar topics included Youth Leadership, Sexual Health, Nonviolence, Substance Abuse, Anti-Bullying, College & Career, Media & Self-Image, Healthy Dating/Dating Abuse, Emotional Health and Ending Isms & Stereotyping.
Family Services of Westchesters Youth Council was formed in 2000 to empower teens to become an active voice for their peers in the county, becoming advocates on such important topics as substance abuse, youth violence and anti-tobacco initiatives. Members of the Youth Council and the Junior Youth Council have traveled to White Plainsand Albanyto meet local and state legislators and speak out on gun control and cutbacks in funding for social service programs for teens. To learn more about joining or sponsoring the Youth Councils, contact Alma Evans at email@example.com or (914) 872-5224.