Local youth joined the world wide efforts of world changers on Global Youth Service Day by creating an urban paradise in a troubled community. Global Youth Service Day (GBYSD) provides volunteers with an opportunity to involve local youth in activities to foster change and become active members of their communities. Teens With a Purpose (TWP) will be working on a project that combines service, environment, peace and harmony. Teens will use the garden to plant seeds of love, inspiration, community and family. On Global Youth Service Day, April 12th, Teens With a Purpose kicked-off the garden with a fun garden party. Teens came together to get the garden ready for the season by watching the documentary created by the previous years teen gardeners. The teens learned about nutrition, cleaning the outdoor space, and to set an expectation for the day with Yoga. The TWP youths also, able to create garden art and begin planting seeds of vegetables, fruits and more. They also had support of the local community with several mentors including a Visual Artist, a Master Gardner, an Engineer and a Norfolk Police Officer.
The garden project brings together teens and community members while promoting healthy eating, this garden project also plants a different seed. Growing their own food inspires a mind-shift in these budding urban gardeners. Teens transform from mere consumers to producers! These young people explore the roll of producers who are responsible for and capable of sustaining life, caring for the earth and providing food for themselves and for others. It also instills a sense of responsibility for the earth and neighborhood pride. Alternating between planting, watering, and weeding, sessions will occur amid gardening time and personal growth time. Campers meet in small groups to discuss and or journal on HOW’S IT GROWING where the focus is on the things in their lives that they want to; plant (add), water (develop) or weed (take out) in their lives. The sessions will continue during normal program hours Monday – Thursdays and run through the summer with the annual TWP summer Camp, Camp Inspired which serves 120 Norfolk youth.
The garden has naturally become a safe haven of harmony, unity and friendship, which is perfect for the name which means friendship; peaceful harmony. The garden is sustained through donations for the local gardening community including Tess Amaruso, a Visual Arts with a big heart for nature. There were several local individuals and organizations that joined forces to support the youth on GYSD. Officer Ali Williams, Young Audiences of Virginia, E.R. Camp and Health Food Centers facilitated the various elements of the day such as nutritional workshop with healthy snacks, garden art, cleaning the garden area and planting some of the seeds and plants for the season. This year Teens With a Purpose is the recipient of the Disney’s Friends for Change Grant through TWP Teen leader and Youth Advisory Board Member, Khayla Walker. Khayla Walker, a Bayside High School 12th grade student, was one of many successful applicants around the world to receive a $500 Disney’s Friends for Change grant supporting youth-led environmental initiatives for Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), the largest service event in the world, April 11-13. “While we work together, we are changing the world and our local community because peace, happiness and a spirit of harmony is amongst us,” said Khayla. Disney’s Friends for Change: Project Green (www.disney.com/projectgreen) is a program that encourages young people to take steps together with their friends to help the planet. The grants, administered by Youth Service America (YSA), offer youth the resources they need to bring environmental initiatives to life for their local communities.
We won the youth group award for the Norfolk Environmental Commission for our work in the garden.
See the photos from the Virginian Pilot here