PATERSON, NJ- Taking advantage of a format that allowed participants to drive the agenda more than 30 stakeholders moved toward creating an action plan to give Paterson youth the skills and tools they need to become leaders.

With general agreement among the participants that kids are not afraid to fall and get back up and should be motivated to explore the world, talk to people, and be empowered,  Marycarmen Kunicki, Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, suggested “We should start young and implement leadership skills.”

Conversation focused on the importance of allowing children and teens to learn what they are capable of, so that they can be motivated and empowered to bettered themselves, and their communities. Part of this, suggested Jalyn Lyde, principal of Rosa L. Parks High School for Fine and Performing Arts, is giving the  students the opportunity to learn from others that are already contributing to the betterment of Paterson. 

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“We need the community to come into the schools,” Lyde said. 

“It takes a village,” stated Michael Odom, Pastor of  Wholelife Community Church in closing another participant led discussion that led to the conclusion that in order for Paterson to thrive “everyone needs to participate.”