On Saturday, October 22, 2016, Morris Heights Health Center, in partnership with Affinity Health Plan, heldthe first annual “Gear-Up for the Future” Youth Eventat Bronx Community College (BCC).
Gear Up for the Future was successful in bringing together youth from all across Bronx and arming them with information and tools necessary in planning for their futures. The event generated a learning atmosphere meant to inspire young minds in the Bronx community through engagement in three moderated panel discussions, “Gearing Up and Knowing Your Rights,” “Gearing Up and Staying Healthy” and “Gearing Up and Starting a Business.” The development of each segment was completely youth-driven (using data collected directly from youth focus groups held months prior to the event), centering on key issues young people within the target age group (ages 16-21) are most concerned about, including: entrepreneurship, college exploration, career preparedness, and strengthening relationships between the police and communities.
The event kicked off with a welcome from the distinguished host, Dr. Bob Lee of WBLS Radio, and MHHC President and CEO, Gabriel M. Vonleh. Keynote speaker, Shaun Derik of Dreamsong International, then took to the stage with an interactive and dynamic address that focused on the importance of pursuing your dreams and overcoming fears. Celebrity guest panelists Caesar Emanuel and Dutchess Lattimore of VH1’s hit reality series Black Ink Crew, and Chase Reed of Sneaker Pawn, USA (a pawn exchange for high-end shoes located in Harlem), captivated the audience by sharing their personal success stories, offering advice on ways to overcome obstacles and carve out your own path to success.
This inaugural event laid the framework for a much larger mission for Morris Heights Health Center, and their commitment to improve young lives in Bronx—the establishment of the MHHC Youth Institute. Essentially a youth resource center, the MHHC Youth Institute will focus on providing Bronx youth with a place to receive health care services, college and career exploration opportunities, financial literacy workshops and after-school recreational programs. According to Alida Quinones-Reyes, SVP Community Based Services and the lead for this event, “this is a new opportunity for the Morris Heights Health Center, as we have been seen only as a health care provider for the past 36 years. This event has propelled us into the world of youth serving.”
Affinity Health Plan, Popular Community Bank, Healthfirst, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, BioReference Laboratories, and Bronx Community College.
For more information on the event and to see a full list of panelists, please visit here.