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Youth Jobs in Focus at JP Community Forum

At the third annual State of Our Neighborhood forum, members of the community spoke to elected officials about a variety of topics.

In a nearly filled Kennedy Elementary School auditorium, members of the community and elected officials came together to discuss issues that come with living in a city with specific focus on Jamaica Plain.

Four elected officials addressed the local economy and jobs for teenagers at the third annual State of Our Neighborhood forum Tuesday night.

Carol Rogers, a teenage volunteer at Teen Empowerment, Inc., a Roxbury-based organization that helps young people develop job skills, told a story about how she saw a cousin gunned down when she was in third grade.

She said the experience could have touched off a life of tragedy and struggle, but she was determined to find a way out.

She said she focused her efforts on the day-to-day life at school, where she studied writing, math, science, music and the arts.

“Regardless of how hard it got though, I never lost interest in taking these hobbies and using them…for work,” she said. “I had an epiphany,” she said. “Even though circumstances aren’t perfect I still had life to live.”

She said she wants to become an architect and through her work with with Teen Empowerment, her dream could become a reality.

Rogers closed by saying said teens deserve access to education and jobs.

State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez said unfortunately, the same problems exist today that did when he was a teenager in early-1980s Boston.

“I see myself from that same spot,” he said. “The thing that upsets me though is we’re still having the same conversations.”

City Councilor at-large Felix Arroyo said the budget for youth jobs has been slashed drastically since his first year on the city council in 2010.

He urged the crowd to consider this when voting for the state’s next U.S. senator.

“When people come over here looking for our votes because they want to represent us in the United States senate, we need to ask them a very clear question…’Is the federal government going to get back to investing in young people?” he said.

Derryl February 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Brett, what else was discussed?
yogasong February 27, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Deryl - good question. Lots of other items. City life/ La Vida Urbana discussed forclosures and strategies for pushing back against the predatory lending institutions; there was discussion about city-run composting and how Somerville is doing it and Cambridge is starting it; Elderly and affordable housing; small business support which was represented by City Feed, Canto Bakery and Latina Beauty Salon; and the counselors mentioned calling our reps and asking political candidates about what their plans are for supporting youth jobs. There were more items I don't remember but it was a spirited meeting. The two teens gave exceptional, moving speeches. Glad I attended.
Bret Silverberg February 27, 2013 at 02:22 PM
A lot was discussed, but this was the most impassioned moment of the panel, or so I thought. Other topics on the table were affordable housing, urban agriculture and transportation.

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