Strengthening the Trenton Community by Working Together

NJHI 2017: Next Generation Community Leaders Empowering Trenton through Youth Civic Engagement
Next Generation Community Leader of Millhill Child & Family Development, Casey Fortson

The Next Generation Community Leaders program has brought me nothing but opportunity and exposure. Throughout this experience, I’ve been able to meet and collaborate with some amazing and ambitious people. In addition, members of the coaching staff have shown me nothing except kindness since the very beginning. Our Next Generation Community Leaders team has met with local nonprofit organizations to get a detailed understanding of their missions and plans for achieving their goals. We’ve met with a number of organizations, including the Mercer County One-Stop Career Center and the Trenton RISE Center.

Collectively, all these organizations want to make our city and community a safer and better place for youth. When nonprofit organizations pitch their ideas to us, we discuss their ideas among our team. As ambassadors of teenage youth in Trenton, we have to think about what will benefit our peers in the most productive way possible. We have to vote on tough decisions that aren’t easy to make by any stretch of the imagination.

Even though we are younger than most of the community members who approach us, they take our suggestions and constructive criticism seriously. As an example, the adults who lead the Trenton RISE youth center took our suggestions into consideration as they planned renovations. We suggested the center should have a flexible and attractive space for game nights, in addition to gaming stations, movie nights and various workshops. They shared this feedback with their architect. The RISE center has so much potential to have a positive impact on youth. All the people who are involved in the planning of the RISE center are committed to officially opening the center and managing its operations.

Ultimately, we have to make decisions that benefit of our peers and not simply reflect our personal views. We all made commitments to become leaders who are focused on our community’s present and future.

See the Trenton Next Generation Community Leaders’ work through their Facebook page. Track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.

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Casey Fortson
Millhill Child & Family Development