October 17, 2018
David Chiles – Executive Director, Providence Center
Providence Center is a Sponsored Ministry of the Society of Holy Child Jesus.
¡YÁ! is Providence Center’s new teen service and advocacy group. In Spanish, “¡YÁ!” means, “Enough!” Working on environmental projects and community gardens, our teens are saying enough to dirty parks and playgrounds, to treeless city streets, and to a lack of fresh food options in their neighborhoods. They are also saying enough to the image of their generation as apathetic and technology-addicted teenagers.
Yariel, one of the teens, explains his motivation: “When you come to your neighborhood park, you want to see it clean. It’s a mental thing when the park smells, feels and looks better. We need to keep it clean-not just for us but for our kids and our kids’ kids.” In November, Yariel will be trained as a Tree Tender, helping to plant and care for more than 70 new trees in his community.
For Yariel, ¡YÁ! is about much more than the environment though. Many of the participants in ¡YÁ! moved to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year. Their families have struggled to rebuild their lives in Philadelphia, often having lost everything in the disaster. ¡YÁ! has helped the youth build social connections. As one of the bilingual members of the ¡YÁ! team, the program has offered Yariel the opportunity to develop his leadership skills. “Knowing English and Spanish, I’ve tried to step up as a leader. If other kids were confused, I would help them.”
This is what ¡YÁ! is all about — teens supporting each other while building a stronger community for everyone.