NEW WEBINAR: Youth Leading the Way: Inspiring Stories of Youth Creating Safe, Accessible Neighborhoods

America Walks Monthly Webinar

Youth Leading the Way: Inspiring Stories of Youth Creating Safe, Accessible Neighborhoods

DATE: Wednesday, September 30, 2020 at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EST, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm PST

Registration Link:

Join us for inspiring stories from youth leaders who are working to create safe, accessible neighborhoods. Youth are the future of our communities and they are taking initiative to address concerns in their neighborhoods.

Webinar participants will hear from four student leaders working to create meaningful, inclusive, and lasting change in their communities through innovative programming with the YMCA.

First, hear from two students who took part in the YMCA’s 2020 Changemakers Institute. The Changemakers Institute is a virtual summer program available to all high school students, including incoming 9th grade students and graduating high school seniors. As part of the Institute, participants prepared, implemented, and evaluated a Changemaker Initiative that addressed a specific issue in their community, and aligned with one of the Y’s Areas of Impact, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and their own passions.

Next, hear from two students who participated in the YMCA’s Youth and Government program and developed active and healthy communities projects as part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-YMCA grant. These inspiring case studies, which address the need for safe pedestrian and bicycle access to schools and the many community benefits of shared school resources, will further highlight how young changemakers are leading the charge to strengthen communities through policy, systems, and environmental change.


You can access a live stream transcript of the webinar here.

Jack Kelly – Clifton Park, New York

Jack Kelly is a rising senior at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, New York. Jack is extremely involved in his school and community, serving as the president of his student senate and debate team, working on the leadership team for his local Youth and Government district, and acting as a chair and student founder of multiple committees on his town. Jack also serves as the state director of operations for Homoglobin, an advocacy group advocating for LGBTQ+ healthcare and education policies as well as blood equivalency. Outside of school, Jack is an avid cellist as well as a lifeguard at his local YMCA. Jack’s youth initiative will establish a walkability committee in his community. Jack met with a representative from his town and they created a plan for the structure of the committee. He is now recruiting members for the committee and has drafted a 3-month plan for the committee.

David Fu – Short Hills, New Jersey 

David Fu is a rising sophomore currently living in Short Hills, New Jersey. He lived in Shanghai, China for most of his life before coming to America two years ago. Some of his notable achievements include winning a first-place award in piano competitions. David has also won medals through participating in school sports, such as shot put and sprinting. David has played in several chess tournaments and won a several trophies for being one of the top five players, and occasionally the top player in the tournaments. David’s youth initiative is to help improve pedestrian safety within his community. Currently, David is helping his community to apply for a grant from Safe Routes to School to build sidewalks and crosswalks for schools in his community.


Benaja Richardson – Winston Salem, NC

Benaja is a college freshman at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies and is a member of Charlotte’s Pre-Law Society. Benaja lives in Winston Salem, North Carolina and is a graduate of Parkland High School and a former International Baccalaureate Diploma student. From 2018-2020, Benaja served as Student Delegation leader for Parkland’s Delegation of the NC Youth and Government program. Last year, she participated in the YMCA walkability audit grant to assess walkable areas in school zones which resulted in her delegation reaching out to their local council members. In Youth and Government, Benaja was in the Legislative branch her first year, and was a member of Court of Appeals in the Judiciary for the next two years. Benaja is passionate about advocating for and elevating both small and large-scale walkability solutions for her local area and beyond. Throughout her high school career, she was also President of The National Technical Honor Society that constantly pushed for Career Technical Education and preparation for all career paths among students.

Jessika Crockett-Murphy – Massachusetts

Jessika graduated from Marshfield High School this past year and is now a freshman studying Political Science at Stonehill College. She is extremely involved in college already, taking part in First-Generation and LGBT-Dialogue groups, as well as recently being elected class president. Through high school, Jessika was involved in a few political campaigns, and once assisted in gathering exit polling data for Edison Research. She also was a youth advocate for the RESPECTfully MA campaign over the past year and gave a guest speech about the campaigns work at the Jane Doe Inc. Spring into Action event. Jessika was involved heavily with the Massachusetts YMCA Youth and Government program, going to the Conference on National Affairs twice in 4 years. Through Youth and Government, she drafted a mock policy targeted towards the active communities program, which sought to open all public schools in Massachusetts to be even greater community assets by allowing towns to use the facilities during non-school hours.