Growing by leaps and bounds: NAACP youth group increases membershipPublished 9:26pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013
The local branch of the NAACP is getting bigger — and younger. Over the past several months, membership has swelled from a few to many, according to Chynna Bonner, the group’s director.
“I’m so excited. We have 42 kids, and they are doing fabulous things,” Bonner said. “The kids are learning so much and they are leading — they are leading their peers.”
When Bonner took over the group in November 2012, she gave the growing membership solid objectives: “Provide young people with personal and leadership-development training — that’s my number once goal,” Bonner said.
“Proactive community activism — getting them involved. And public awareness of the necessity of positive youth engagement — we’ve got to give these kids something to do,” she said.
Bonner has given the youths plenty to do, and they are rising to the occasion, she said.
“It’s like a whole different learning thing for me,” said Alexis Jenkins, president of the youth group. “As far as leadership, I’m getting more involved with that right now and getting social with it.”
According to Bonner, this group is doing community service (volunteering for meals at Zion Shelter), taking part in community activism (attending the annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street rally in Raleigh), increasing its extracurricular learning (establishing a superior historical knowledge to their older East Carolina University counterparts during the Brotherhood Bowl) and building a fundraising machine that will help it get where it wants to go.
In April, that’s Washington, D.C. With a recent fundraiser at Pizza Inn, bake sales and an ongoing 50/50 raffle in which the drawn winner takes half the pot, the NAACP youth group is raising funds that will take it on a spring break trip to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and, perhaps, a trip a bit farther up Interstate 95 to national NAACP headquarters in Baltimore. The return trip will include a stop at Bush Gardens, Bonner said.
“I’ve always wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum — we used to always talk about it in history class, and I always knew I wanted to go there,” said Jenkins. “Now I get a chance to.”
Jenkins is a student at Southside High School, as are most of the youth group members. Bonner said that’s next on the agenda: to develop more community-wide involvement. Of the 42 members, two are enrolled at Washington High School, three are from P.S. Jones Middle School and another goes to Beaufort County Ed Tech Center.
The growth of the youth group parallels a nationwide NAACP focus on youth and children.
“We’ve always had a youth group, some just more active than others,” said Bill Booth, president of the Beaufort County branch of NAACP. “They’re an exciting group, doing some exciting things.”
For more information on how to become involved with the NAACP youth group, email Chynna Bonner at firstname.lastname@example.org.