Published on: Saturday, October 1, 2016 Takoma Park Newsletter

Youth united too

By Rick Henry

While a large part of the crowd at the Takoma Park Unity in the Community Event at Capital City Cheesecake on Sunday, Sept. 25 was made up of youth, it was especially hard to miss those clad in blue shirts. They were everywhere, serving food, handing out information and talking with police officers and citizens who showed up to show their support.

But unless one was paying close attention, the group’s core message might have been overlooked. The youth were representing a group called Teen NVasion, and their shirts were emblazoned with a message that was particularly relevant for both the event, and today’s times. On each one was the statement: “Teens taking control and re-establishing a positive presence within our communities.”

Teen NVasion, established in 2012, is a city-sponsored initiative of A.C.T.T. Now (Advancing Community through Teens Now), which is dedicated to providing teens with safe, supervised activities that promote positive self-image, health, wellness and a sense of community.

Trey Williams, 18, a Teen NVasion participant who was volunteering at the event, said that mission fit in perfectly with the Unity in Community Initiative. “We, (Teen NVasion) are about bringing more people together, and this event is about (not just) uniting the police with other people but uniting other people with other people,” he said. Saron Alemseged, 17, another member of the group, agreed. “This event is very important,” she said. “We all need to feel secure.”

While the members of Teen NVasion had a clear purpose for attending the event, other youth said they weren’t sure what to expect, but decided to participate anyway. Julia Meynard, 11, a student at Takoma Park Middle School, said she was persuaded to attend by her friend and classmate, Marin Barclay, also 11.

“She told me there was an event happening, so I said I would come,” Meynard said. “I wasn’t sure what it was exactly, but I wanted to see what it was all about,” Barclay said.

After spending some time at the event what had the girls concluded? “It’s about happiness,” Meynard said. “Yeah, happiness,” Barclay added. “And each person can make it happen.”

It’s a lesson that hopefully everyone who attended took away from this inaugural gathering.

This article appeared in the October 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.