From her June 2012 speech at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
I’m Abria Adams. I’m a freshman at West Potomac High School. I moved from Southeast Washington DC to Murrygate Village, a working class apartment complex on Rt 1 in Fairfax County, eleven years ago. I grew up in the Boys and Girls Club here and now this summer I will be working at the club helping out with summer camp.
Voice’s youth effort started at Murrygate Village when our teens did a small group discussion about what we wanted to change in our neighborhood. Our school bus stop was out on Rt 1 and some dark mornings our teens would stand there and be harassed by passing people.
Our club serves a low-income community so we try not to charge the kids too much. For summer camp we went the pool it added up to a $100 every visit. We kept costs down by limiting the number of times or driving to the free pools in DC. Finally, we needed more space practice for our dance group.
We worked with Bethlehem Baptist Church and VOICE of Mt Vernon (comprised of indviduals from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Mt Vernon Unitarian Church) to change these problems. We met with our prinicipal and got our bus stop moved. We met with someone from the Park Authority and won free access to the pool for the summers. We had a meeting with the director of the Teen Center at South County where he agreed to give us free space to dance every Friday.
But we are not done yet. We need more recreation space for the youth in our area. When my peers and I need a quiet place to do homework there is no place to go; we only have a small playground so they overflow into the parking lot which is not safe; We don’t have a gym or a field; and each summer we turn away kids from summer camp because we can only take up to 25 youth. Many families in the area, including mine, don’t have cars so we can’t always get to other centers. We need better recreation facilities close to home.
When the children from Murrygate go to other boys and girls clubs in the area I can tell they feel more open and active because of the more space and programming.
I’m committed to working to get the youth in our neighborhood access to a full-service recreation or community center.