Three youth center participants received kudos at a City Hall ceremony.
Jasmin McNeil knows life can force alterations to even the most detailed and thoughtful plans, but if the 17-year-old has her druthers, she will become a registered nurse and pay forward all the help she has received.
The senior at Universal Audenried Charter High School, 3301 Tasker St., and 25 other honorees gathered at City Hall Tuesday for the Lockheed Martin Police Athletic League Day, the 43rd recognition of city teenagers’ academic and community service successes.
“I feel so fortunate to have this experience,” the resident of the 2700 block of Dickinson Street said of gaining recognition for her three-year involvement at her Grays Ferry secondary institution. “PAL has given me a great outlook, and anyone who becomes involved at a site is going to learn that staying active keeps young people out of trouble and away from violence.”
The adolescent serves as Audenried’s homework club instructor and attendance coordinator; participates in the Positive Images Girls Mentoring Program, which offers healthy lifestyle advice, including leadership-building activities, career readiness discussions and physical awareness tutorials, to girls as young as 10; and picks up monetary skills at the Universal Companies’ Marketing Club, 800 S. 15th St. Due to become a certified nursing assistant next month, the future Drexel or Temple University learner and medical professional beamed as City officials, PAL officers and Lockheed Martin’s Gerry Fasano lauded how well she and the others have followed their personal prescriptions for distinction.
“Your accomplishments give us hope for the future and surely will help you to become Philadelphia leaders,” Fasano, the president of information systems and global solutions for the security and aerospace company that has sponsored the event for seven years, said. “You have kept on the right track, and that is commendable considering all the pressures that could derail you.”
Philly’s PAL centers have produced young visionaries since 1947, including Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who attended Northeast Philly’s Gibbons site; basketball immortal Wilt Chamberlain, who starred at Overbrook’s location; and boxing legend Joe Frazier, who prepared for his life as a pugilist at North Philly’s 23rd PAL destination.
Montel Little had heard of the organization’s reputation for fostering athletic development so often, he thought sports would be his only option. Becoming aware of the various offerings through Janice Little, his grandmother and the stationed police officer at Point Breeze PAL, he has combined his athletic acumen and other interests for 12 years and credits it for shaping his mentality.
“I joined Point Breeze PAL to learn about how to forge my future,” the 17-year-old Germantown resident and senior at Central High School said of the influential programming offered through George W. Childs School, 1599 Wharton St. “To anyone who is considering joining a center, I say do it because it will change your life.”
Little has sated his athletic cravings through six sports, has expanded his literary acumen through reading programs and has shown his altruistic side through tutoring and computer and homework club duties. He maintains an active civic involvement, too, walking in AIDS, cancer and domestic violence events and will study animation and psychology once he selects from three college suitors.
Ishay Sims also gives himself few occasions for rest as a member of Ford PAL, 631 Snyder Ave. The junior at Edward Bok Technical High School, 1901 S. Ninth St., has excelled at the Whitman facility for 11 years, with sports dovetailing with community projects, such as homeless blanket drives and roundtable discussions, to mark his prosperous tenure.
“I like anything that keeps me involved,” the resident of the 900 block of Cantrell Street said of taking on so many chores. “I’d rather have many things to do instead of nothing.”
The Lower Moyamensing inhabitant and the other achievers, including Rasheeda Brumskill of North Philly’s Cozen PAL, who served as “honorary mayor” for the day, received an adult mentor to shadow following the commendation ceremony.
“This is one of the best perks of my job,” Gary Steuer, the director of the office of arts, culture and the creative economy said of the process that matches officials with pupils whose potential career pathways match the employees’ responsibilities.
The resident of the 700 block of South Broad Street guided North Penn PAL participant Jumaani Haskins through an afternoon of discussions on connecting arts and culture to other civic matters. McNeil and Chief Education Officer Lori Shorr bonded, with the former eager to learn how the City approaches the preservation of quality instruction within public schools.
Montel Little and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers formed a potentially perplexing pair, but the teenager aimed to gather from the employee a sense of the complex workings of a City agency. With an interest in accounting, Sims found a perfect partner in Finance Director Rob Dubow.
“I hope to be able to pick up great knowledge to use in my likely career,” the 16-year-old said.
Though the City officials have the wealth of knowledge, Fasano advised them to be more open to hearing than to speaking.
“Be reminded of the Cherokee saying ‘Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf,’” he said.
“Don’t worry,” a smiling McNeil said post-celebration. “I’m going to give my mentor plenty to answer.”
Over his nearly five-year tenure as the chief cultural officer and director of the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Gary Steuer has enjoyed being a cheerleader for global promotion of the metropolis’ innovative identity.
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