Philly students inspire at At-Risk Youth National Forum

Wearing their signature navy blue blazers, ties, crisp white shirts and dress shoes, four Youth Ambassadors from the Philadelphia Youth Network welcomed At-Risk Youth National FORUM participants to their session, entitled “Seeding Success.”   

Audience members were impressed by the articulate, successful high school students — a team of Philadelphia teenagers who work to integrate “youth voice” in PYN’s program design and policy-making strategies. 

Developed and led by C. Kemal Nance, M. Ed., the program’s mission is to advocate for the best interest of Philadelphia’s young people. In weekly after-school sessions, these trained student leaders learn workforce competencies while providing communications services to the organization and its external partners in three capacities:  as spokespersons, trainers/facilitators and researchers. 

Tionna, Deshawn, Andre and Timothy put their training to good use as presenters. The session got off to a rollicking start as Tionna asked participants to respond “true” or “false” to three questions and then to defend their choices.  A spirited debate broke out over the statement “Old school teaching techniques should be used for new school students.”

The Youth Ambassadors also took the audience through two separate problem-solving exercises, including moving through a maze of colored paper in a specific sequence — but with no specific instructions. Participants had to use all of their team-building and communications skills to accomplish the task.

The second problem involved how to engage Latino and African American children in school.  The session attendees collaborated on an answer, and then the students revealed their solution to the problem, which was quite different. 

“We came at it from the student’s point of view,” Tionna explained.