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Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXVIII, Number 5846
Thursday, Apr 25, 2013

Rising Stars Award Ceremony Recognizes Recreation Center Teens

Photo by Malcolm Pinckney

This past Friday, April 19, NYC Parks held its second annual Rising Stars Award Ceremony to recognize teenagers that have demonstrated a strong commitment to Recreation programs for over two years. Our 2013 Rising Stars received awards recognizing their leadership efforts within our programs, including recreational activities such as dance, culinary arts, karate, double dutch and teen programs like the Green Teens. As part of the award, all Rising Stars will conduct an organized activity for the children based on the skills they learned from their favorite recreation program. Our Teen Division will also offer the Rising Stars support with finding employment and/or internships created through partnerships obtained by Parks. Finally, in consideration of Earth Day and Arbor Day, the Rising Stars received a sapling to plant and tend after the ceremony.

The 2013 Rising Stars Award Ceremony honored 12 teens, in addition to three former Rising Stars and dedicated mentors who have been involved in Recreation programs. The Rising Stars this year hailed from all five boroughs and were active in many recreation centers:

Kamil Banks: St. James Recreation Center
Lavelle Maitland: Hunts Point Recreation Center
Jailen Swinnie: Hunts Point Recreation Center

Pierre Guthrie: Von King Cultural Arts Center
Christian Sanchez: Von King Cultural Arts Center

Aidan Murphy: Chelsea Recreation Center
Jamabet Zapata: Chelsea Recreation Center
Jarsibet Zapata: Chelsea Recreation Center

Krisana M. Richard: Al Oerter Recreation Center
Joseph Valle: Al Oerter Recreation Center
Judine Watkins: Sorrentino Recreation Center

Staten Island
Susan Ellis: Faber Field House

Robert L. Garafola, Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget, Susan Donoghue, Assistant Commissioner of Strategic Initiatives, and Emily Chase, Chief of Programming and Strategic Management for Recreation, addressed the Rising Stars at the ceremony. Deputy Commissioner Garafola talked about the uniqueness of their achievements, praising them for their exceptional contributions over and above 37,000 teen Recreation Center members. Assistant Commissioner Donoghue underlined the fact that, just like being green and sustainable, the everyday efforts of the Rising Stars made an impact and showed true dedication and leadership.

It is the objective of NYC Parks to counsel and follow these youths as they become adults and are college-bound and beyond. The ceremony highlights Parks’ ongoing commitment to the 37,000 active teen members of Parks’ recreation centers, as Parks provides quality recreational, cultural and educational programs dedicated for them.

The ceremony was held at Prospect Park Picnic House and was attended by around 100 people, including proud parents and family members of the Rising Stars. Referencing Deputy Commissioner Garafola’s talk about the burning and reconstruction of the Picnic House in the 1920s, one parent was moved to write a poem capturing the event:

A humble picnic house in the park that once burned down
lit up and brought to life by 12 Rising Stars:
Jailen, Jamabet, Jarsibet, Joseph, Judine,
Pierre, and
Susan from Staten Island,
surrounded by loved ones, friends, supporters…

A humble picnic house in the park that once burned down
lit up and brought to life by 12 Rising Stars
and Robert G., letting them know he saw it:
something very unique among the Stars.

Story submitted by Stephanie Jones


“Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help.
Only if we help shall they be saved.”

Jane Goodall

(1934 - )

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