Big Turnout for Youth Fair

Mary Nelson’s second annual Youth Day Fair received an excellent turnout, and while it was only my first time attending this event, I’m sure it won’t be my last.

The event was held at The Oncenter  and featured performances by local youth throughout Syracuse. Some of the performances included chorus singing, a step team, band selections and cultural dance. In six separate, spacious aisles, local schools and organizations showcased each’s particular afterschool and community programs.

There were mulitple booths where the attendees could receive free information, sign petitions and play games. Education, opportunity, networking and fun filled the atmosphere.

Throughout the bustling event, I managed to grab a few interviews with some of the programs. One such interview was with Sue Wegman of Exceptional Family Resources on James Street. Sue informed me that the organization “helps families of children with special health care needs, physical conditions, intellectual developmental disability and behavioral and emotional conditions. It has been in operation for more than 30 years.

While strolling through the aisles, Mr. Raymond Noel got my attention with an original poster that he designed himself. The tall gentleman gave me literature about his movement to keep at-risk youth out of jail and to help reduce violent crime in the city. “Non-violent pledge” cards were given to help spur a commitment to alleviating detrimental activity in Syracuse communities.

The Syracuse School District occupied a number of booths for its different programs: Pre-K, child health and mentoring, just to name a few. Program Coordinator Lawrence Williams explained the mentoring program that looks to develop “pro-active positive relationships with youth.” He also trains mentors ages 18 and up. He stressed the impact that a mentor can have in providing support and encouragement for young people.

After many trips around the center, I came over to the table where the lady herself, Mary Nelson, was sitting … Her reaction to the turnout and vibrant atmosphere was: “it’s beautiful, I love it … the kids coming out to support their parents and vice versa.”

She explained that what helped drive the inception of the Youth Day Fair was “the need to provide a close space where all the programs could be accessible more easily. She definitely came up with a great location for a very noble event.

For more photos, visit our flickr site.

— Story and photos by Ame Donkor, Community Reporter for The Stand; video by John Anthony Garcia Jr., a master’s student in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

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