Rocky Mount Teens Recognized as Amazon Changemakers

teenagers visiting Capital Hill

Highschoolers Israel James and Ke’Sondra Pickett headed to Washington in June for the annual YMCA Youth Governors Conference. They represented the Harrison Family Y in Rocky Mount as one of the 46 Amazon Changemakers teams traveling to D.C. to present their Changemakers project, RISE (Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence), which focuses on adult male mentoring. 

James, Pickett and the other Changemakers were tasked with identifying an issue or need in their community and providing a youth-led plan to address that issue with the Y’s support. Amazon’s Changemakers Project is aimed at supporting teens in low-income communities. 

Citing violence in their community, James and Picket centered on the need for adult male mentors for youth in their community to help kids who are struggling in school, to help them stay in school and off the streets, and to provide guidance and positive role models. While in Washington, they met with staff from Sen. Thom Tillis’ office and Rep. Kathy Manning’s office. 

“This was a great experience,” said James, and Pickett added, “I’m proud of us for doing this.”

James is looking  serving his class as president during this school year, and Pickett, who worked summer camp at the Y, is back in training for various sports for the school year. Together they will work with the Y on developing the mentoring program at their school with some support from the Y on programming for African American males.