Brewerytown: New Youth Board Tries to Give a Voice to Young Residents

The youth board offered suggestions on what they would like to see in their community.

Square tables were pressed together for a conference at the Greater Brewerytown Development Corp. A dozen young men and one young female employee sat around the table as the CDC’s youth advisory board held its first meeting. The conversation was loud and full of laughter.

The young people participating were all teenagers, although the board is open to 10 to 19 year olds, and they go to various public, charter and private schools throughout the city.

“What do you need on the Ave?” asked Naomi Roberson, a Greater Brewerytown Development Corp. employee and co-advisor for the youth advisory board.

The young men answered with shouts for a Hollister clothing store, a McDonalds and other fast-food restaurants, a gym and a football team.

The youth board offered suggestions on what they would like to see in their community.

When James Carter, director and founder of the Greater Brewerytown Community Development Corp. and the coach for the basketball and baseball team, which many of the boys participates in, walked into the room the young men almost instantly quieted down. He told the boys to wait to speak and asked what they would like to see on Girard Avenue other than a sneaker store.

Hands were raised and the young men voiced their opinion about keeping local basketball courts and playgrounds clean and vibrant with new paint and suggested that they throw barbeques to raise money for trips. Beautification and perception seemed to be on the mind of Brewerytown’s young people.

“On other sides of Girard I see houses, over here it looks like the Holocaust,” Rasheed Bell said.

Carter listened to the other suggestions for school work and college-prep help.

The new youth advisory board also decided to hold meetings every other Tuesday at 4 p.m. and to elect officers in the summer. Participants were given job applications at the meeting, as well.

Vaux High School’s Principal Richard Gordon IV made an appearance at the meeting.

“I want to congratulate you for taking part in this opportunity,” Gordon said to the group. “I hope you guys put together a strong team to encourage others to join.”

James Carter (right) spoke to his fellow Brewerytown residents about their changing neighborhood.

The meeting adjourned when two cheese pizzas were brought in and the youth advisory board lined up for a slice of pizza and a cup of soda.

“I thought they would be in more depth and offer more variety,” said Carter after the youth board meeting concluded.

Carter said he wanted to start the board because he noticed the adult Brewerytown residents didn’t know or care to figure out what younger residents wanted in their area. Carter said he plans to turn the board over to Justin Haley, a younger resident that really knows how to interact with them.

Carter (right) presented Vaux High School students and Principal Richard Gordon (left) with free school blazers and jackets.

Haley, 35, has been in Brewerytown for 20 years and has been helping out with the basketball and baseball team for a few years. He works to teach the young participants networking for employment, speaking properly, giving firm handshakes and reaching their personal best.

“I want the kids to use their personal success to give back,” Haley said.