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Hill Harper signs autographs and chats with teens at Teen Awareness Day in Fort Greene

On Sunday, October 8, 2006, AMAG's James Lisbon and Mark Knox of The Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc. presented their first Teen Awareness Day at IS 119 in Brooklyn, with Hill Harper, one of the stars of the hit CBS drama series, CSI: NY and author of the bestselling book, Letters to a Young Brother.  Mr. Harper was the keynote speaker at the event.

Mark Knox, who has been involved with The Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc., a six year old not-for profit organization, stated, "Over the years, I've noticed that community programs are dwindling.  When I was growing up, we had the Sea Cadets and Boy Scouts.  I just feel that more people should step up to the plate and give back to the community. We sought after Hill Harper because although many of the youth in my program are not as focused on reading as they need to be, they immediately took a strong interest in Mr. Harper's book, Letters To A Young Brother." 

Lisbon and Knox's Teen Awareness Day was filled with exciting performances, but self-esteem building and motivation was the main objective of the program. 

Hostess, Sheneese Nichlos, a 27 year old entrepreneur, writer, designer, event planner, counselor and founder of IWIN (I as Woman Internalizing My Purpose), took command of the 100 plus-filled auditorium of primarily high school students.  Her diverse professions were all instrumental in enabling her to maintain control of the large group and keep their interest throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Through every business, interest and goal that Sheneese has, her ultimate achievement is the progression and realization of the Divine Black Goddess; the essence of God that is within all of us. Sheneese is on a mission to change the current image of women of color and how they are seen in the world today.

Performances by poet, Shavelle Knox, inspirational dancer Channel Parker and vocalist, Helisha, who sang The Greatest Love of All, set the stage for Special Guest Speaker, Bruce George, Co-founder of Def Poetry Jam and Founder and Managing Editor of  The Bandana Republic, An Anthology of Poetry & Prose by Gang Members & Their Affiliates.  Mr. George opened with clips from Def Poetry Jam, discussing the importance of artistic expression.  Mr. George also stressed the importance of staying away from gangs and understanding that the music video thug image is not thug life in reality.  Mr. George told the kids, "Thugs don't have time to make videos.  It is not gang life, it is gang death and you are in it forever. There is no maturing and thinking about starting over.  There is a price."  It was a wake up call for many of the young ones who attended.

Bruce George is the recipient of numerous awards including, but not limited to The Peabody Award, The Milky Award, Upscale Showcase Award and The Trail Blazer Award. Mr. George's speech was summed up by Dina Martin of Dina's Books & Crafts as "Simply electrifying. Bruce George was absolutely amazing. He held the kids’ interest to a degree beyond comprehension."  

In spite of hours of taping at Radio City Music Hall for Celebrity Jeopardy on which he's playing for charity, Hill Harper was still determined to show up at Teen Awareness Day and bring a message to the kids. Mr. Harper made an impactful and inspiring presentation. His analogies and emphasis on the importance of building a strong foundation for your dreams was well appreciated.  He imperialized dreams and affirmed that it is okay to have more than one dream.  On completion of his exhilarating presentation, Mr. Harper was gracious enough to remain after the event to personally chat and take pictures with each child. It wasn't a brief, “What's your name -- scribble and see you later�, either.  It was more like, “Really?  And how do you feel about that?�   “Well, one option is . . .�   and,   “That is great!�   That's the manner in which he engaged each and every child who approached him.  "That’s what it’s really about -- making it and coming back to help others with a sincere interest," stated James Lisbon.

Earlier this year, Hill Harper was interviewed about his book by AMAG/Awareness Magazine’s publisher James Lisbon for the cover story.  Lisbon realized that many of the youth who are in NEED  of  Harper's message would not receive it because they would not be able to get the book for a number of  reasons. After discussing this with Hill Harper,  Mr. Harper agreed to personally come and speak to a select group of youth; some who are on the right track and could use additional motivation and some in dire need. 

This is the first union between AMAG & The Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc. and the event was such a success that a December, 2006 Teen Awareness Day is already in the works.  Being a former resident of Brooklyn's Fort Greene Projects, Mr. Lisbon is looking forward to an ongoing relationship with The Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc., “because they are serious and active within our communities," stated Mr. Lisbon.

Mr. Lisbon, together with Mr. Knox, secured sponsorships to ensure that each child in attendance would receive Hill Harper's bestselling book, Letter's To a Young Brother. 

Major sponsorship was provided by Mr. Tom V. Tuffey, Assistant Vice President of Forest City Ratner Companies and Owners of The New Jersey Nets and Danny Simmons of The Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.  Additional sponsorship came from Ms. Tonya E. aka Miss Right Now, Inc., Latonia Almeyda of MOME Publishing, Inc., author Saint Solomon, Owner of Tru-Life Publishing, Karen Mitchell, Dina Martin and author, Pamela Samuels-Young, Esq., whose support helped a great number of children in attendance.

The event was a huge success.

To check out cool pictures of Teen Awareness Day, logon to http://www.awarenessmagazine.net/slides.html?1160752129711

For further information about Teen Awareness Day or any of the individuals or entities listed above, logon to
www.awarenessmagazine.net  or contact James Lisbon at 212-413-9554

To subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com
Our motto: “Speaking Truth To Empower.�

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