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On Sunday, March 17, the Outreach Committee sponsored an impressive Forum entitled “Youth Empowerment and Education” that focused on the effects of poverty on the children in our neighborhood. Five agencies were represented on the panel, agencies that approach this problem from different perspectives such as the effects of trauma on the ability to learn throughout childhood but especially the very young, the need to feel cared about and how often children find that care coming from the wrong sources, how important a stable family life with adequate food is to learning. The agencies were represented by their very passionate and committed leaders: Catherine Corto-Mergins, Executive Director, The Village for Families and Children; Jacquelyn Santiago, CEO, COMPASS Youth Collaborative; Thulani Davis, Program Director, Spectrum in Motion; E. Andrea Williams, CEO, ConnectiKids; and Karen Lott, CEO, Women’s League Inc. Child Development Center.

Besides the issues mentioned above, they also brought up how much impact a mentor/tutor can have in helping a child build self esteem, and to meet grade level expectations. Not only is a solid educational foundation necessary to achieve success, but children must be given the confidence and the hope that even higher aspirations are possible. Discipline required in the arts can be translated to other areas of life and the attention given by a consistent mentor makes a young person feel valued and builds relationship with a caring adult. These are areas where we could use our talents, compassion, and energy.

Each agency suggested specific ways in which AHCC members could really make a difference in the lives of young people. For more information on what you could do to help make life better for these young people and for future generations, contact Rev. Mia Douglas or see the Faith in Action brochure available in Drew Hall, the entrance hallway or click on the link here.