Y teens march with signs along Tampa Riverwalk

During this peaceful rally, Y Teen Achievers found themselves playing an important part in history.

Tampa Y Teen Achievers participants talk with local police officers

Guest speakers from the Tampa Police Department engaged in healthy dialogue with Y Teen Achievers to help bridge the gap between youth and law enforcement. 

Y Teen Achievers in the Tampa YMCA Teen Summer Experience program learned lessons in civil discourse this summer.

On July 16th, nearly 40 Teen Achievers peacefully marched from the Bob Gilbertson Central City Family YMCA to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park carrying homemade protest signs. Guest speakers from different organizations participated and kneeled with the teens at the city park.  

Leading up to the peaceful rally, Teen Achievers studied Black History and Tampa Black history, learned about the history of protests in America, discussed the differences between protests and riots and researched policymakers and related laws.

After the peaceful march, the students reflected and discussed the impact and importance of their field trip. They also wrote letters to local lawmakers to try and enact change.  

“We are hoping this event will be memorable, life-changing and possibly lead to some future politicians, police officers and other change agents,” says Tampa Y Senior Director of Family Outreach Wayne Johnson. “I am proud of our students, staff and volunteers who helped make this event as safe, successful, meaningful and educational as possible.”

The following week, the teens engaged in healthy dialogue with two officers from the Tampa Police Department. They discussed their personal experiences with school resource officers compared to the perception of police in the media. Students had questions for the officers to seek understanding of the George Floyd incident and how he was subdued. They also discussed the use of stun guns versus firearms. We appreciate Tampa Police’s efforts to help bridge the gap with youth and law enforcement.

The Tampa Y 2020 Teen Summer Experience program is a five-week program generously supported by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. Middle schoolers from Sulphur Springs K-8 Community School participated in positive enrichment programming in an effort to limit summer learning loss.