Future Now Summit brings Philadelphia youth together in effort to foster community

Girard College hosted an event Saturday for youth to be able to have a safe place to gather and consider their future.

"Summers here! We wanted to wrap our arms around the youngest members of our community and have some folks come speak to them from a perspective of places they’ve come from." Said Jeanette Bavwidinsi, with Youth Engagement for the City of Philadelphia.

The Future Now Summit featured several free areas students could wander around and interact with, including an art gallery featuring portraits of people who have been murdered in Philadelphia, as well as other locations in the United States.

Zarinah Lomax helped curate the collection as a reminder to people of the violence, but also to provide support to victims left behind.

"These people had a life, had a legacy. They had family," Lomax explained. "We’re really big on co-victims. We don’t just do the exhibits, we actually use the art to pull them in and connect them to mental health resources and communal resources."

Jody Fernandez is a 9th grade teacher at Girard College. She says the biggest hole the lives of the young people she interacts with is true role models and adults who care.

"These children are lacking in resources and additionally they’re lacking in adults who believe in them and willing to support them in the trials that they’re going through," Fernandez stated.

The event is about more than what the kids have been through. It’s about what they can become in the future.

"We want young people to start planning and envisioning themselves in the future and we know sometimes that’s not the case for a lot of our young people," Bavwidinsi added.

To find more resources, the city has a comprehensive Youth Engagement website, here.