Rochester, N.Y. - Learning a sense of self is an important lesson for the 11-to-14-year-olds participating in the Rites of Passage Crossover Ceremony at Danforth Community Center, Sunday. It’s put on by the city and the Youth for Change group – the teens are part of the Goodfellas or Determined Divas that meet twice a month.
“Its very important for this age group,” said Lead Facilitator of Good Fellows Michael Brooks Sr., “because we catch them at a critical time where they could either go one way or the other way.”
The teens spent their weekend looking toward their futures - but more importantly back on their heritage.
“They understand the trials and tribulations we as a people have gone through,” said Brooks, “and now they see a different side of the story instead of violence and crime they see something positive dealing with peace.”
“Every time I come here I realize this has helped me in a major way,” said Unique Fair-Smith, one of the youths who went through the program last year and wanted to come back to help others.
Fair-Smith showed his artwork to the audience during the ceremony giving an example of one thing in his life this program has encouraged him to focus more on.
“After looking at all this history and realizing there are people who died for what they believe in makes me want to study and observe more and value that and fight for it,” said Fair-Smith.
Fair-Smith is just on example of how this weekend is just the start of a journey for these young people.
“When someone knows where they came from and the roots and the reasons behind the behaviors it kind of sets its a compass,” said Tanishia Johnson a Female Elder of the group, “it could set their life, and could change the tone of how their life would be otherwise.”