10-22-12 26 Mt. Vernon, NY Key leaders show support for Mt. Vernon Youth Bureau’s “Lights on After-School” activities On Thursday, October 16, 2012 City Hall’s plaza was filled with youth, parents and elected officials to celebrate the national campaign, “Lights on After-school.” Elected officials such as Mayor Ernest Davis, NYS Senator Ruth Thompson, City Council President Roberta Apuzzo and Council members Deborah Reynolds and Richard Thomas joined School Board Trustees Brenda Crump and Marc Stuckey stood on the steps of City Hall with the Youth Bureau’s Executive Director, DaMia Harris, to show support for after-school programs. Cynthia Miller, assistant to US Congressman Elliot Engel was also present. The City of Mount Vernon was one of more than 7,500 sites across the nation that successfully sent the message that positive youth development programming during unsupervised time is critical to youth success. The Mount Vernon Youth Bureau convened this press conference to highlight the positive youth in the city and to send a clear message that the city must “keep the lights on” and doors open to support children and their parents. The program was lead by Laquavia Foster, a Mount Vernon High School senior and Youth Bureau Board member. Mayor Davis dubbed the young lady as his hero, as she was able to call almost two hundred young people to attention and begin the press conference. Guest speakers included Lowes Moore, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club, who spoke of the importance of safe, affordable places in the community that keep youth off of the streets. Mr. Keith Muhammad and Mrs. Alecia McDowell, who are parents to teenagers who have benefited from the Youth Bureau’s programs, addressed the crowd to encourage more parental involvement. However, the most compelling speakers were the four young people who represented various Youth Bureau programs and communicated to the elected officials those investments in positive youth development programs will guarantee a safer city. “It has been proven that if young people have structured scholastic afterschool programming, there will be an increase learning potential and reduction in deviant behavior,” said Mayor Ernest D. Davis. “I treasure the moments I am able to witness the leadership of young people like Laquavia Foster, Kiana McDowell, Nefray Demetrius, Ardianna, Mamie Yai and Elijah Muhammad.” said the mayor. “This city will continue to support and invest in our youth’s potential.” For further information regarding the Lights on After-school campaign or after-school programs, please contact DaMia Harris through the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau at (914) 665-2344.