Mayor Spotlights SSYP Teen Organizing

In his State Of The City address last night, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh unveiled plans to to renovate Ramsay Park, thanks to the efforts of SSYP's teen organizers. The Park is one of the few green spaces in the Lenox neighborhood, which is home to one of our year-round program sites. Despite its potential to be a family-friendly recreation space, it has long been an epicenter of drug use and violence in the neighborhood. SSYP's teen organizers came together last winter to plan the park's transformation as part of the B-PEACE for Jorge anti-violence initiative. (Read the Boston Herald Article, which includes video footage, here.) 

The teens' efforts spurred the formation of a coalition, Friends of Ramsay Park, that fosters greater collaboration between community organizations. Teen organizers led cleanup days, painted murals, planted bulbs, planned summer evening athletic programming and created family events. Their efforts to make the six acres safer have engaged city and law enforcement officials in dialogues about larger neighborhood issues including gang activity, homelessness, addiction, and mistrust of law enforcement. Noting that he "grew up in his neighborhood's parks" the Mayor said he is committed to improving parks throughout the city.

SSYP's Lenox Neighborhood Organizer, Sarah O'Connor who attended the Mayor's speech along with teen organizers and Director of Youth Programs, Liz Steinhauser commented, "We are thrilled that Ramsay Park is getting the kind of resources and attention from the city that the neighborhood deserves! This has been a community-wide effort that would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of many individuals and organizations including (but not limited to) Vibrant Boston, Northeastern University, Washington Gateway Main Streets, D-4 of the Boston Police Department, the Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin and the City of Boston Department of Youth Engagement and Employment. Thanks again to everyone for being part of this exciting new chapter in the story of Ramsay Park." 

To find out how to get involved, please contact  Sarah O'Connor.  Read press coverage:




SSYP Goes To Wellesley College

On November 22nd, eight students from St. Stephen’s Youth Programs and St. Mary’s Ethiopian Congregation ventured out on the commuter rail to visit Wellesley College. The trip was part of a growing partnership between St. Stephen’s and Wellesley, which also includes SAT Prep, a program in which Wellesley students help prepare high school juniors at St. Stephen’s for the SAT exams. This fall, the partnership grew to include a program for seniors focused on college preparation. The high school students set up Common Applications, wrote college essays, and participated in SAT Prep classes.

The opportunity to visit Wellesley College allowed students at St. Stephen’s to see what a small liberal arts college looks like and ask the college students questions about their experiences and challenges. The visit included a tour led by college students and a panel of college students who answered questions. Helegenat, one of the students from St. Mary’s commented that her favorite part was “talking and listening to the Wellesley students, especially hearing the first generation student’s stories and advice. Also viewing the art room was something that struck my interest because it pertains to the type of art I’m working on right now.” After the panel, everyone went to the dining hall and stuffed themselves at the buffet. The next stop was the student center, where Wellesley generously provided $10 for every student at the gift shop. The students left the school fulfilled by a fun day exploring a new part of Massachusetts and learning about a different type of school.

St. Stephen’s is excited to continue the partnership with Wellesley in the spring by providing SAT Prep for Juniors. If you know anyone who may be interested in participating or if you want to learn more about how you can be involved in the College and Career program at St. Stephen’s, please reach out to Jeremy.

Posted by Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, College and Career Program Coordinator