A Summer at the Attic

Teens talk LGBT issues during a summer program

Courtesy of Attic Youth Center

Mob attacks may be framing a few of Philly’s youth in a bad light, but the Attic Youth Center has been engaging teens with positive experiences funded by Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady Program. For six weeks this summer, 31 teens worked on a service learning project poised to make a difference in the local community.

Each day, the teens – ages 14 to 18 – split up into one of six work groups to tackle projects related to video production, research, memoir writing, public speaking and performance, mural painting and T-shirt design. One of the groups created an original line of tees that display messages promoting equality, while another interviewed city employees about bullying prevention policies. Other teens shared their personal stories via podcast.

“I am so glad to have had the experience working on this project at The Attic this summer,” says Lulu, a high school senior. “As someone who has been bullied in the past for being flamboyant, this project means a lot to me, and I have learned that all types of people are bullied – gay, straight, young and old. Hopefully, the youth who worked on this project will help take a stand and really make a difference.”

Not only did the teens address serious issues impacting young people today, but they also learned valuable job skills, such things as time management, public speaking, teamwork and technical skills.

“It is great to see youth grow into leaders over the course of the summer and I am proud to be part of an institution that provides youth with so many amazing opportunities,” says Carrie Jacobs, The Attic’s executive director.

The teens will showcase their work at The Attic’s Summer Expo on August 11 at the William Way, which will feature performances, art exhibits, videos, and a discussion about on how young people can work together to make Philadelphia a safer and more affirming environment for everyone.

Jacobs also says that the program, while designed for LGBT youth, could easily be applied to anyone who may feel left out, bullied or in need of a voice. “They are doing work that they are very enthusiastic about, while learning valuable job and advocacy skills,” she says. “We are hopeful that they will continue to impact their respective environments in a positive way once the summer is over.”

Summer Expo, Aug. 11, 5-7:30 p.m., William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., 215-732-2220.