The Braddock Youth Project has been helping the community and its youth since 2006. Now, the project is getting ready to move into a new home.
The offices will move from the Braddock Employment Training Center to the Nyia Page Braddock Community Center, a vacant church that Mayor John Fetterman bought in 2003 with the intention of renovating for community use. A grand opening will be held in August.
Mr. Fetterman said the center's renovations are about 99 percent done. The center will hold offices and space for the Braddock Youth Project, and two large offices are available to rent. The center also will be available to rent for weddings, receptions, showers and other events, Mr. Fetterman said.
He said the center will complement the Carnegie Library across the street and the adjacent playground and basketball courts.
The community center was named for Nyia Page, a 23-month-old Rankin girl who died in 2007 of exposure and hypothermia after being outside in single-digit temperatures for more than a day. Her father, William Page, was found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated indecent assault. A memorial at the center will honor her memory, Mr. Fetterman said.
The Braddock Youth Project is a community development, youth employment and work readiness program. This summer, 62 students between the ages of 14 and 17 are working on a variety of projects to help better the community.
Andrea Arrington, project coordinator, said teenagers are the best at doing community development work.
"They're not adults, but they can take on adult responsibilities," she said. "They're not children, but they still have the sky-is-the-limit optimism of children."
Twelve AmeriCorps members work with two staff members to guide the students, who work on projects such as maintaining neighborhood gardens and writing a community newsletter.
Since 2007, the youth project has partnered with Grow Pittsburgh to maintain Braddock Farms, an urban garden. Ms. Arrington said project participants also maintain gardens throughout Braddock.
In the wake of the closure of UPMC Braddock, youth project students noted the dearth of health care options in the borough and created a program called Healthy Practices.
Allegheny County offers free lunches for children 18 and younger at sites around the county. Braddock Youth Project students go to the lunches and teach other children about portion size, nutrition, asthma, obesity and other health issues.
"Our teams are actually teaching their peers," Ms. Arrington said. Cold lunches are distributed at the Braddock Avenue Playground and hot lunches are offered at Mapleview Terrace and the Good Shepherd Catholic School.
Ms. Arrington, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., who earned a master's degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, will leave her position as project coordinator at the end of this month to pursue a doctorate. She said she hopes a Braddock native will run the youth project someday.
Braddock Youth Project will hold a symposium from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. July 28 to discuss how youths can effect community change. Cost is $30, which includes a pizza dinner the night before and lunch the day of the symposium. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.braddockyouth.org.
Annie Tubbs: email@example.com or 412-263-1613.