Tyrone Blanco, Jaylen Edwards, Jaquan Cox, Jazmine Fulgencio and Griffin Sua were honored with Youth Leadership Awards at the Feb. 12 meeting of Community Board 8.
Each year, in collaboration with the 12 community boards of the Bronx, the New York Yankees honor five teens who have shown leadership within their communities with an award and a $750 stipend. Community Board 8’s recipients were chosen with the help of Lamont Parker, chairman of Board 8’s youth committee.
Parents, friends and community members gathered at Riverdale Presbyterian Church to watch Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr., a Riverdale resident who served as a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, hand out New York Yankees Youth Leadership Awards to the young volunteers.
Riverdale native Griffin Sua, 15, who is a freshman at the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, MS/HS 141, had not even expected a nomination.
“I was really shocked because I didn’t expect to win such a big award, or even be nominated,” he said.
Griffin has been volunteering with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park since he was 12. His jobs included working as a junior naturalist and as part of the trails crew. He has helped preserve and beautify the park by planting trees and working on garden beds. More than 150 volunteer hours later, Griffin is now employed with the Friends.
Samantha Sua, Griffin’s mother, looked on proudly as her son received his award.
“It’s a wonderful honor, and it makes the teenagers feel special. Winning means so much to them because they don’t do it for the award, but because they love what they do,” she said.
Tyrone Blanco, a senior at MS/HS 141, didn’t think his nomination was real when it first came in the mail. He began volunteering at Riverdale Community Center as a freshman. Some of his responsibilities with the center have included working closely with kids as a youth mentor and a leader in the after-school program. He also teaches dance, basketball and flag rugby.
Tyrone has completed more than 50 volunteer hours over the years and was hired by the center when he was a junior. As for what he plans to do with the money that he received, he said he has already given his mother half of it and will use some to pay his senior dues.
“The leftovers will be left in my bank account,” he said.
Jaylen Edwards and Jazmine Fulgencio, both high school seniors, volunteered at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center. Jaylen, who attends MS/HS 141, is a member of the Kingsbridge Heights center’s Youth Leadership Council, and helped the center protest budget cuts at public hearings. He is also a trained peer mediator and served as a “reading buddy” in the center’s after-school program, helping younger students improve their reading skills and do their homework. Jazmine, who attends Marble Hill High School for International Studies, is also a member of the Youth Leadership Council and is a mentor at KHCC’s special needs program. She also serves as a peer mediator.
Jaquan Cox, a junior at Bronx Theatre High School, is the vice president of Teen Council at the Fort Independence Community Center, where he has been volunteering for about three years. Jaquan helps his peers in the school’s after-school program with dance and various other activities. He is also a tutor and homework assistant at the New York Public Library.