I want to introduce you to some very impressive youth from the Port Towns in Prince George’s County. The Port Towns include the communities of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston. End Times Harvest Ministries second annual Youth Wellness Leadership Institute’s Wellness Ambassadors Leadership Program Summer Camp finale was this past Saturday at Port Towns Elementary School in Bladensburg. During the two hour program, thirty youth ages 10 to 17 taught the community about healthy eating, BMI, muscle groups and presented their findings from a community assessment of Route 450 in Bladensburg.
After an extensive audit of Route 450, the wellness ambassadors compiled a SWOT-strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats- analysis, wrote recommendations and even talked about what would have done with more time. Recommendations from the community assessment included putting bike lanes and bike racks along Route 450, increasing fresh and organic food options, incorporating green roofs into existing buildings, improving bus stops and installing signage which would direct people to historic places and the waterfront.
Bladensburg Mayor Walter James attended the presentation as well as Council Members Walter Ficklin and Walter George. Council Member George had attended several of the sessions with the wellness ambassadors including walking Route 450 during a community assessment. Mayor James was adamant that the report would not sit on a shelf but would be rolled into the Bladensburg Green Street initiative. The wellness ambassadors were invited to present at the next Council work session and invited to Prince George’s County Council to present their recommendations.
I was able to join the Wellness Ambassadors on one of the assessments. The assessment tool was very comprehensive covering all aspects of walking and bicycling, storm water drainage, green roofs and the number of people using the street. This group of students expanded on an existing tool from the previous year to ensure no stone was left unturned. All the photos from the walk are on our Facebook page.
There is increasing a willingness to bring youth to the table. After all, they are part of the community and often use the streets as pedestrians and bicyclists. After working with this group on the community assessment and seeing their flawless presentations, it is obvious why youth should be at the table. They provide a valuable perspective and their excitement is contagious. There is something very powerful about youth taking a real interest in their community and making policy recommendations. I know I left re-energized and ready to take on the world-or the Greater Washington region.