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New York Jeter's Leaders' Annual Graduation/Induction Banquet
Contributions from Gianni, Cristine, Elmer, Cindy, Fati and Orlando, Jeter's Leaders members since 2010
The New York Jeter's Leaders Annual Graduation/Induction Banquet was held on July 1, 2010, at Prospect Park's Picnic House in Brooklyn, N.Y. The banquet honors the senior Jeter's Leaders for their accomplishments throughout their four years in the program, while introducing a new class of freshmen who will officially start their journey as Jeter's Leaders.
After a short welcome and introduction by Leaders Tyreece and Kaylin, the event kicked off with a number of performances from current Jeter's Leaders members. Junior Leader Corinne began by playing a delightful piano medley. Second-year Leader David played two jazz songs on the saxophone with his older brother. Next, Joshua and his dance group captured the audience's attention with a choreographed hip-hop dance routine. The night's talent showcase concluded with a song from Victoria and Aaron. Aaron played guitar, while Victoria sang beautifully.
The banquet was, as always, a special opportunity for the Jeter's Leaders staff to recognize the outstanding student leaders in front of their peers, families and special guests. After the performances, program director Betty Wiltshire and program coordinator Megan Scanlon introduced a number of standout Jeter's Leaders and presented them with awards for their hard work. Some of these awards included Rookie of the Year for the most outstanding freshman Leader, Top Five GPA for the five highest cumulative grade point averages and Most Valuable Player to the student who displayed the most exceptional leadership skills throughout the year.
After a delicious dinner, the evening's program continued. With high anticipation and excitement, the six 2010 graduates were called to the front of the room. The program staff recognized the group for their amazing accomplishments in the program. Each senior was given a Leadership plaque signed by Derek Jeter and a stipend for completing the program and was officially welcomed into the Jeter's Leaders Alumni program. Now alumni members, they all pledged to continue to uphold the Turn 2 Foundation's mission and commitment of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being a role model to their peers while in college.
Next, it was time to induct the 12 new Leaders. Each student proudly walked to the front of the room displaying the qualities that led to their selection as Jeter's Leaders. The inductees each received their Jeter's Leaders jersey and a copy of Derek's autobiography, "The Life You Imagine." In a fitting tribute, the audience gave the graduates and new inductees a long, standing ovation.
New Leader Christine beamed with excitement. "When I put on my jersey for the first time, I felt very proud of myself. I am looking forward to making a difference with the Jeter's Leaders."
The banquet was an inspirational night for everyone. Although it was a bittersweet moment to say goodbye to the graduating Leaders, it was a motivating night for the freshmen to see what lays ahead for them in the program and beyond.
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In February and May, the New York Jeter's Leaders participated in two workshops about sexual education and healthy relationships, hosted by Lily M. Divino, a social worker at Mount Sinai Hospital. The workshops covered important topics such as stress management and teenage interaction.
Lily has been a social worker at the Mount Sinai Hospital Adolescent Health Center since 2004. She gave the Leaders examples of situations that she had actually seen or dealt with as opposed to handing out reading materials or just offering statistics and facts from a textbook. Her presentation was fresh, modern and interactive.
The initial workshop covered a wide range of topics such as stress, general health, types of relationships and body image. As part of the workshop, the Leaders were asked to fill out a chart about qualities or traits they like about themselves, followed by deciding whether the traits were something that they would keep to themselves, share with others, or both. The group gave thoughtful and a few funny answers that filled the room with laughter. "One thing I like about myself is that I'm good looking. I'd keep it inside but everyone knows it already", replied Evan, a junior Leader. He wasn't the only Leader who made everyone giggle. Emani, a member since 2007, also gave everyone a laugh with her response. "I really like my eyes, and that's something that other people notice." The workshop wrapped up with a question-and-answer segment.
Lily returned in May to present the healthy relationships workshop. She spoke about the warning signs of unhealthy relationships, while revisiting some of the sexual education topics that she spoke about in February. The Leaders realized that the second session was much different than the first. This session was different from the first in that the discussions were based around prepared scenarios. The scenarios sparked lively conversations and debates amongst the Leaders. Through the scenarios, they were encouraged to see multiple sides of the story, which in turn helped them to make more informed judgments and decisions. Although many sensitive issues were presented, Lily helped make the workshop fun and enlightening.
The sexual education and healthy lifestyles workshops were a great success. The Leaders gained a lot of insight about both topics. Most importantly, the Leaders learned about dating safety and the consequences of unhealthy relationships. The entire group enjoyed Lily's presentations and had a meaningful experience during both workshops.
N.Y. Jeter's Leaders' Spring into Collge Tour: Maryland and Virginia
By Amy, Divina, & Abir, Jeter's Leaders members
Each year the Turn 2 Foundation provides weeklong college tours outside of New York City to expose the Jeter's Leaders to different colleges across the country. This year, the New York Jeter's Leaders visited schools in Maryland and Virginia, including the University of Maryland, University of Baltimore, George Mason University, University of Virginia, University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and The College of William & Mary.
After an early morning, four-hour bus ride, the Leaders arrived at the University of Maryland. The group enjoyed a tour given by three knowledgeable students. Along the way, they gave the group the opportunity to interact with students around the campus. The guides even introduced them to two players on the Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team. The players were enthusiastic about their school and posed for a picture with the Leaders.
After the University of Maryland, the Leaders headed to the University of Baltimore. UB is a small school but offers a wide variety of majors and a strong sense of community. Since the school is centrally located, it allows its students to be heavily involved in the city of Baltimore and enjoy all that it has to offer. While on the tour, one Leader asked about UB's English major. The group learned that the school has one of the top English programs in the country and is one of the only schools to offer an intensive program in publishing. After a packed first day, the group headed to Baltimore's ESPN Zone for a night of friendly competition. On day two, the group crossed over into Virginia where George Mason University was first on the list of visits. Before arriving, the Leaders were given a questionnaire about the university. They split into groups and were ready to have a little fun by challenging themselves with a scavenger hunt. One requirement was to interview George Mason students to find out key facts about the school. The Leaders thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about George Mason through personal accounts and experiences of current students and staff.
After enjoying lunch at George Mason, the group headed to the University of Virginia. They were welcomed by the Dean of Admissions who also hosted their information session. Afterward, a third-year student, guided the Leaders around the stunning campus. The guide explained that the school's founder, Thomas Jefferson, had a strong belief that learning does not stop after one's "senior year," but carries on throughout the years of one's life. This philosophy is the reasoning behind the Virginia students speaking of themselves as first and second-year students instead of as freshmen and sophomores. The Leaders agreed with Jefferson's concept and felt that Virginia's warm atmosphere and welcoming student body was a place where many first years would feel very comfortable. Along the tour, the Leaders saw how UVA students live and learn right next to their professors, just as they did in 1825 when the school was founded. After another long day, the Leaders decided on a relaxing night at Charlottesville's Fashion Square Mall and enjoyed a group dinner at Red Robin.
The Leaders woke up bright and early the next day and drove to the University of Richmond. To their surprise, a sign that read, "Welcome Jeter's Leaders" greeted them upon arrival. The day began with an information session, followed by a great tour of campus. The Leaders learned about Richmond's history and the fact that the university was among a small number of schools that has separate student councils based on gender. The Leaders enjoyed the scenic walk through the woods of the campus; something they do not get to experience very often living in the city.
After Richmond, the group was off to Virginia Commonwealth University where they enjoyed a self-guided tour given by the chaperones. They could really see the difference between campus life in the city versus a rural area. Divina, a junior in the program said, "I especially enjoyed the variation between the type of tours and colleges we visited. It added a sense of stimulation to the trip." The day ended with a little free time at Swader's Sports Park, where they played laser tag, arcade games and even jumped in the go-carts to take a few laps around the track.
The week was flying by, but the Leaders had one last school to visit before heading home, The College of William & Mary in Colonial Williamsburg. As the bus pulled up, a cross-country meet was taking place. The Leaders noticed that the event included a team from each of the schools they had just visited on the tour, which was kind of cool. Starting out at the admissions office, the Leaders toured the entire campus and were impressed by its grand and varied architecture. They made a final stop at the William & Mary gift shop and then jumped back on the bus to head home.
From city schools like the University of Baltimore and Virginia Commonwealth, to rural schools like the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia, it's safe to say that the Leaders are now able to make a more informed decision about what kind of school will best suit them. Aside from touring great colleges, the Leaders also came together and bonded as a big family, making the trip even more special.
Jeter's Leaders learn about the World of Money
By Tyreece, Jeter's Leaders member since 2009
On Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, World of Money's Executive Director Sabrina Lamb spoke to the New York Jeter's Leaders about developing and maintaining their own businesses. World of Money is a leading provider of financial education to underserved youth in New York City.
Throughout the presentation, the Leaders learned how to start their own businesses at a young age and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. The group learned about different types of business structures, and Ms. Lamb included a segment about developing one's "elevator pitch", or overview of a product. During the presentation, she made time for the Leaders to create their own pitches and share them with their fellow Leaders. To help learn about financing a company, the Leaders drew a chart listing the pros and cons about owning their own businesses. They discovered that it takes a lot more work and money than they had originally anticipated.
As a participant in the presentation, I asked my fellow members, "What did you think about the World of Money presentation?"
"It was fun, informative and educational," said David, a first year Jeter's Leaders member. I also liked creating my elevator pitch."
The rest of the Leaders also enjoyed the presentation and gave positive feedback. They are looking forward to another presentation from Ms. Lamb in the future.
Jeter's Leaders visit Project Reach
By Nicholas, Jeter's Leaders member since 2009
On Jan. 9, 2010, the New York Jeter's Leaders attended a meeting hosted by Project Reach, an anti-discrimination organization that focuses on eliminating New York City's disparate youth communities. While there, the Leaders discussed discrimination issues and participated in an eye-opening activity. The Project Reach members spoke about their feelings toward discrimination and the effect it has had on their lives in terms of gender, sexual preference and ethnic stereotypes.
After the discussion, the Leaders took part in an icebreaker, which allowed them to get to know each other better and safely explore potentially awkward and uncomfortable topics. After being asked to form a large circle, they were asked a series of questions, such as "Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your ethnicity or skin color?" If they answered "yes", they were to step to the middle of the circle. Throughout the activity, the Leaders were shocked at some of the things they were learning about one another. They came out of the activity with a new perspective about the effects of discrimination on their group members.
Following the icebreaker, the Leaders formed small groups and received a large sheet of paper with an outline of a boat drawn on it, along with 15 index cards that were placed face down. They were told a story about fifteen people who were trapped on the roof of a building because of a gigantic flood. The Project Reach facilitators explained that each group would serve as a rescue team. The hard part was that they could only save 10 people due to the small size of the boat. Their task would be to pick five people to leave behind based on the description written on the index cards. The Leaders were shocked when they read the information on the cards. One card read, "16-year-old convicted twice for robbery." Another read, "Pregnant black woman". The rest of the cards continued in the same manner: "Orthodox Jewish man," "Welfare recipient for 15 years," "Homosexual man with AIDS," etc. They soon realized that the descriptions were common to those who are discriminated against simply because of their circumstances or appearance.
After much debate, the groups had to make their final selections. They taped the 10 index cards that represented those they chose to save to the inside of the boat. The five left out were taped to the water drawn outside of the boat. Each group was asked to post their boat onto the wall for the entire larger group to see. The groups tried to explain why they had saved certain people over others. It was an uncomfortable feeling for many of the Leaders, having made their choices based on the basic profiles of the different people.
After each group shared their choices, the Project Reach members conducted a discussion about the activity. They discussed the notion that the Leaders had made judgments and conclusions based on stereotypes and prejudices of the simple facts of the people written on the cards. They explained that while the Leaders were forced to do this for this activity, unfortunately, people are judged everyday due to one simple fact or aspect of themselves. The facilitators helped the Leaders understand that some of the people in the activity (and in life) did not have a choice about the path their life had traveled. For example, the welfare recipient was actually a teenager who needed help due to poor choices made by his parents.
The rescue activity taught the Leaders to look at the bigger picture. "If the only thing one knows about a person is that he or she is on welfare, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are lazy, like the stereotype may suggest. It may simply be because they could be hurt, are a child, or maybe something else happened to them," said Nicholas, a freshman Leader.
Another freshman in the program Corrine said, "I really liked it because it taught us that while everyone may look different and may come from different backgrounds, we're all basically the same."
Third year Jeter's Leaders member Divina said, "After leaving Project Reach, I began to have a better understanding of the consequences of discrimination on our society. As a result, I have realized how negative discrimination can be, as well as the importance of being kind and respectful to all people, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity."
This activity shed light on many of the stereotypes and prejudices that people face every single day. Project Reach helped the Jeter's Leaders grow as citizens of a diverse community and world, illustrating a vital life lesson that they will hold onto for the rest of their lives.
Jeter's Leaders visit local shelter with Turn 2 youth
On Dec. 15, 2009, New York Jeter's Leaders members Aaron and Karina had a special day with the children of the Turn 2 After-school Program at St. James Recreation Center in the Bronx. Aaron and Karina serve as mentors to the St. James youth, along with 11 other Jeter's Leaders. They visit the center at least once a month throughout the year.
Several St. James students and staff members accompanied the two Leaders to a local Bronx homeless shelter to bring holiday wishes. Aaron, Karina and the St. James participants visited with several families and interacted with the children in the shelter. The highlights of the night were the smiles on the young children's faces when they received a special gift, made just for this occasion in a previous mentoring session, from the Leaders and St. James students.
Along with visiting the children, Aaron and Karina gave a presentation about the Jeter's Leaders program. They discussed the mission of the program, what they aim to achieve and answered questions that the teens in the shelter posed to them. They were very happy that they were able to be a part of the visit and were able to meet and talk to the families in the shelter.
Aaron and Karina are looking forward to mentoring the children of St. James throughout the rest of the year. They hope to attend more community service trips with them in the future.
Jeter's Leaders take part in Respect Rally
By Corinne, Jeter's Leaders member since 2009
Courtney Macavinta, Founder of RespectRx in California, hosted a Respect Rally for the New York Jeter's Leaders Program on October 17, 2009. RespectRx is an organization that works to help young people boost their self-respect, as well as maximize healthy relationships and respect for others.
Courtney used a series of activities to help the Leaders recognize specific respect qualities. In the first activity, "Chain of Events", the Leaders locked arms and took a step to the left or right based on how they would answer different questions about respectful and disrespectful experiences. The questions included, "Have you ever seen someone be bullied in school?" or "Have you ever felt that you were important?" This activity showed the Leaders how their actions and decisions affect those around them, as well as pointed out the shared experiences of many of the Leaders.
After this initial activity, Courtney told her personal story. While growing up, Courtney faced issues such as domestic abuse and teen pregnancy. She considered dropping out of high school. Her personal journey from disrespect to respect is the motivation behind her book, RESPECT: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line is Crossed, and the creation of RespectRx. Her mission today is to spread the word about why respect is important in everyone's life. Courtney's story was punctuated by a slideshow that included shocking statistics about peer-pressure, violence, and relationship abuse.
Another activity included a symbolic act of getting rid of disrespect. The Leaders shared a form of disrespect that they have witnessed with a partner and shared how they would attempt to stop it. Then the Leaders wrote each example down on a post-it and threw it into an imaginary fire.
The group was also given a list of Respect Basics. They included Tell Your Truth, Know You're Valuable, Follow Your Passions, Trust Your Gut, Set Boundaries - Speak Up!, Be Compassionate - Listen, Get Help, and Spread Respect. Courtney asked them to think about what each Respect Basic means to them. In another activity, the Leaders were able to recognize which Respect Basics they are good at and which ones they should work on. They also realized that using these Basics could help reduce cycles of negative behavior and outcomes that start by one person disrespecting another.
The Respect Rally had a strong impact on many of the Leaders, including Nicholas, a freshman in the program. "I thought the rally was a great experience for me personally and it helped me bond with the other Leaders. I learned how to respect myself, respect others, and to set boundaries and goals. All in all, it was great having Courtney there to guide us through, and I wouldn't think twice about doing it again."
Jeter's Leaders set off on tour of Connecticut colleges
By Rafael, Jeter's Leaders member since 2008
The college tour to Connecticut was one of the first trips of the New York Jeter's Leaders 2009-10 program year. As the Leaders arrived at the Turn 2 Foundation office that day, they were excited to find out what the trip would have in store for them. With their itineraries in hand and bags on their backs, the group jumped on the bus and set off for yet another lively college tour.
After a short bus ride of talking, dozing off, and watching the road ahead, the group arrived at their first destination, Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. Jeter's Leaders Alumnus Jordan immediately greeted the group and took it on a tour of his school. Fairfield has an attractive campus and a wide array of courses and career paths. As soon as you enter its gates, you feel welcomed and valued.
Departing from Fairfield, the Jeter's Leaders headed to the prestigious Ivy League school, Yale University in New Haven. At the visitor's center, the Leaders split up into two groups to accommodate two tour guides who showed each group its way around campus. They gave advice on how meeting new people on campus was an important part of college life. Afterwards, both groups headed back to the Visitor's Center for a short media presentation about the university.
Roused by the anticipation of the second day's events, the Leaders ate a quick breakfast and set off for Wesleyan University. Upon arrival, one of the Wesleyan deans and a student representative, welcomed the Leaders, introduced the school and answered questions. Afterwards, they toured the campus and saw several residence halls and the interiors of important buildings such as the library and the main center.
The last stop on the college tour was the University of Connecticut. The university is probably best known for its athletics. The Leaders met with current UConn students, saw state-of-the-art buildings and had the chance to get another feel for campus life, all of which are crucial in understanding the college experience. They learned that UConn is more than just Huskies athletics.
After the Leaders' visit, the group got on the bus headed back to New York City. Most of the Leaders felt that they could actually see themselves attending the colleges they visited.