AT&T Young Leaders Launch "Teens on the Move" Web Site
NEWTON, MA -- (July 30, 2001) -- The voices of youth are coming through loud and clear, and theyíre saying "Itís up to us!" According to Xavier Carr of New Jersey, "Just remember that discrimination is something that shouldn't happen but it still happens and itís up to us to change all the hate by dealing with it the right way."
Xavier and nine other teens make up the first class of AT&T Young Leaders, a select group of youth who are addressing important issues of the day and taking leadership roles in their communities.
A project of the America Connects Consortium, in collaboration with OpenVoice and sponsored by the AT&T Foundation, the AT&T Young Leaders Program brings together young people who have a special commitment to helping others and to challenging themselves with new technologies in their local community technology centers. Linsey Whittaker of Florida exemplifies this special commitment: "I really enjoy working with the kids at my center because we all learn something new from each other every day."
This week the Young Leaders launched "Teens on the Move" (http://www.ontheline.org/teensonthemove/), a web site and interactive forum where they report on and facilitate conversations about issues such as discrimination, relationships, and faith. This site is part of the OpenVoice flagship site, Ontheline.org, which has a user community of over 50,000 teens and gets more than 200,000 hits a week. True to the initiativeís youth focus, Teens on the Move is coordinated by OpenVoice teen staff member Nora Razůn. OpenVoice Executive Director Ken Rafanan notes that, "This opportunity for the young people to have such a high profile and to take leadership responsibility during the program itself sets the AT&T Young Leaders Program apart from many youth development initiatives." Moreover, "in our program, youth are fully recognized for their potential to be online content producers as well as consumers," says Laura Breeden, Director of the America Connects Consortium.
Following their kick-off event at the Community Technology Centersí Network Conference in June, the Young Leaders have been involved in mentoring, training, and other program activities at their local community technology centers. Their experiences and reflections on various issues, including what it means to be a leader in their communities, form the basis of their articles, which will be posted online throughout the summer. In September 2001, they will conduct an online panel for community technology practitioners, youth workers, and peers, discussing the challenges and opportunities facing young leaders.
Aaron Dilyou of Utah has identified what he sees as one of the key challenges, "We as youth need to do something to change the stereotypes people have about us. Itís not fair that we are judged as one and not as individuals!" With these words, he captures the spirit of his fellow teens and people of his generation across America who embrace diversity.
"I think my community is a rich community ícause we have so many different cultures to learn from," says Tiffany Spriggs of New York. "That to me is the most important thing in any community." By participating in this program, Tiffany and her fellow Young Leaders have accepted the challenges and opportunities of leadership in this information age. Taking seriously the idea that "Itís up to us," they are pursuing their mission to ensure that young people are heard and heeded in their communities and beyond.
The inaugural class of AT&T Young Leaders includes Jacquelin Al-Ghamdi de Pena of Yakima County Substance Abuse Coalition, Washington; Ronelle Barrett of Village Parks Apts. Computer Resource Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania; Xavier Carr of Browns Woods Neighborhood Networks Center, Browns Mills, New Jersey; Aaron Dilyou of Sorenson Technology Center, Salt Lake City; Abigail Garrett of Southeast Kansas Education Center, Greenbush, Kansas; Gussie Pettis of Street-Level Youth Media, Chicago; Hope Samuel of BNN Multimedia Center, Boston; Tiffany Spriggs of Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers, Inc., New York; Todd Tullis of Fast Forward, Columbia, South Carolina; and Linsey Whittaker of Town Park Plaza North Neighborhood Networks Center, Miami.
The America Connects Consortium (http://www.americaconnects.net) is a collaboration of eight partners and allied organizations who are working together to bring information, training, technical assistance, public attention, and new resources to community technology centers across the country. The Consortium is funded by a $2 million contract with the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
OpenVoice: Online Communities by teens for teens (http://www.openvoice.org) is a groundbreaking nonprofit corporation based in East Palo Alto, CA. Launched in April 1998, OpenVoice trains local teens to develop critical thinking and technical skills through the creation of web-based media. The teen staff develop their academic, technological, and entrepreneurial skills while they pioneer new spaces on the Internet that empower youth of all races, geographical locations, and economic backgrounds to learn, interact, and role model for each other.
The AT&T Foundation (http://www.att.com/foundation/) invests globally in projects that are at the intersection of community needs and AT&T's business interests. Emphasis is placed on programs that serve the needs of people in communities where AT&T has a significant business presence, initiatives that use technology in innovative ways, and programs in which AT&T employees are actively involved as contributors or volunteers.