Teens in the East Harlem community face many of the same issues teens do everywhere but here they have the added challenge of avoiding the lure of the streets. Luckily for them there are some programs working to guide them in a positive direction.
Getting money is always a goal, and the temptation is to get it fast any way you can is always there. But Harlem teens also grow up seeing the price some pay for breaking the law. Harder to avoid is the social media beefing between youth in different housing developments.
Lawrence Birthwright, known to the community as Brother Jay or Mr. Jay, grew up in housing, and came up with a plan. Based out of the Stanley Isaacs/James Weldon Johnson Center, the S.A.F.E. Program features sports, leadership training, field trips and educational support for boys and girls. But most of all it’s about the ongoing dialogue and guidance.
We were invited by community leaders to do a special teen summit town hall to give the teens a chance to speak out. You might be surprised by what they have to say.