An ideal Saturday morning for most teenagers likely consists of sleeping late, watching television and possibly catching up on the latest Facebook gossip. But the members of Teenagers in Charge are not among the average.
Every Saturday morning, these teens meet at Rose Playground on 1300 N. 75th St. for a two-hour weekly session. During those two hours, the teens discuss different issues going on within their age group including bullying, fighting, gun-violence, teen pregnancy, truancy and drugs.
Judith Dumorney-McDaniel, executive director and founder of Teenagers in Charge, began this non-profit organization in May 1995. She launched this organization with the hope of instilling encouragement and self-confidence in teens from the ages of 10 through 17.
Dumorney-McDaniel had worked as a social worker in the 90s and witnessed first-hand the negative situations teens find themselves in.
“They were suffering from neglect, abuse and abandonment. They wanted to belong to a gang because they felt some type of association if they belonged to a gang. So what I wanted to do was turn those negative thoughts into something positive,” Dumorney-McDaniel said.
As an Overbrook Park resident, Dumorney-McDaniel explained the lack of youth activities in the area. Although youth sports are available in the area, not all children have an interest in sports. “This is an opportunity for them to come to a safe place where their voices are heard,” Dumorney-McDaniel said.
Teenagers in Charge has 25-30 active participants.
Chanelle Frager, a Mastery High School freshman, is pleased with the positive attributes Teenagers in Charge has provided her with in the past year. “It gives me something to do on Saturdays besides just being on the street. It looks good on college applications.”
Members not only meet every Saturday morning but also participate in volunteering and other positive events throughout the week. Many of the students involved have the opportunity to receive class credits for their participation as well.