Community Leaders in McKeesport talk the future of youth

By: Sara Innamorato

On Tuesday night at the Twin Rivers Intermediate School in McKeesport, GTECH hosted a panel discussion about engaging youth in McKeesport.

Nikita Zook from Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) talks about youth engagement in McKeesport.


The panel of local leaders who discussed youth engagement as part of the event included the following:

  • Nikita Zook, Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time partnership coordinator
  • Brie Adams, McKeesport Area School District coordinator of educational opportunities
  • Austin Davis, executive assistant to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald
  • Keino Fitzpatrick, Youth CAST — Community and Schools Together — developer
  • Laura Bosnak-Thompson, McKeesport Family Center chairperson

Q1: Why is there such a need for youth engagement?

“The need to create a vibrant city.” – Fitzpatrick

“Retention – we need to help youth create by making them partners in the process” – Davis

 Q2: What are some obstacles to getting more youth involved?

“Transportation that isn’t accessible is a challenge. Also finding and distributing knowledge to different age groups.” – Davis

“We need to share programs with one another and make sure that they don’t overlap.We need to pool money and resources together to service more kids in the community instead of fighting for resources.” – Fitzpatrick

“As adults we need to set an example, we need to do activities alongside the youth and be part of the process. ” – Zook

Q3: How do we give youth more ownership over processes that drive community change? Better connect them to their communities?

“Get them excited! Let youth find solutions to problems in the community.” – Adams

“Understanding and compassion. With youth we need to show the value of learning from failures.” – Bosnak-Thompson

“Show youth that adults are engaged in their community – let’s lead by example.” – Davis


Q4: How can people here tonight help support you in doing what you do?

“Attend meetings and come together to talk about issues, much like tonight.” – Adams

“Network with organizations that you may not be involved with and forward information that is important to others.” – Fitzpatrick

“People in the city have to tell their own story. You can’t let the media portray a negative image of McKeesport. ” – Davis

Read more about the evening’s event on the Tribune-Review article.
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