Local Teen Takes On Braddock Air Quality

Woodland Hills High School senior Robert Grey knows firsthand about the dangerous health effects of air pollution. He lives in Braddock, blocks from the U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Plant, an iron- and steel-making facility. Diesel truck traffic along Braddock Avenue en route to the plant and other industrial sites in the neighborhood is almost nonstop. The plant itself releases some 2,500 tons of commonly found (“criteria”) pollutants into the air each year, the Allegheny County Health Department reports.

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Summer Intern Plans

The BYP school year program welcomed back some teens who had been working with us since the summer of 2008, now all in their senior year.  We also welcomed newcomers to the school-year program.  This upcoming summer, the newcomers will have their first opportunity to act as leaders in various capacities.

We asked teens in the school-year program, new and old, to reflect on what they would like to accomplish this summer- for themselves, in their teams, and for the BYP as a whole.  Here are some excerpts from their responses:

Gardening Team:


“I would like to grow a better garden than last year’s garden, and I want all of the gardening youth to leave at the end of the summer with knowledge about gardening that that they will be able to use at their own homes.”

“Growing a better crop than the year before is a great feeling, and knowing that you have worked even harder than the year before makes you feel extremely accomplished. And teaching all of the youth skills they can benefit from for the rest of their lives will make me feel even more accomplished.”


“I hope to learn more about tending to plants, and the way agriculture works. I would love learning the life cycle of plants, for example, how they get from a tiny little seed to a blooming plant…. I know that getting outside and into the garden will be a peaceful and fun experience.”

“I hope that by the end of summer program I can be a person that people feel confident to ask questions to about gardening”


“I plan on taking AP Environmental Science my junior year and I feel learning more during the summer may help me with this course.”


“After my experiences on the Braddock Farm last summer, I feel that the garden is where I belong. I loved working on the farm last summer. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also a lot of fun. I learned how to do many things in the garden, and I would love to have a chance to learn more as an intern, and also teach the youth who are in their first year, what I have learned already.”

“There are a few goals that I would personally like to accomplish this summer: One of them is to have a great garden at home and provide my friends and family with fresh vegetables. Another goal of mine is to save up at least another 1,000 dollars to go towards my college funds to add along with the grant money I could receive from AmeriCorps…. My last goal is to make new friends and have fun at BYP, just like I did last year.”


“I would like to be a good leader and role model for upcoming gardeners.”

“By the end of the summer, I would like everyone in the gardening team to know the basics of organic farming… and why organic farming is important.”

 BYP, Jr. Mentoring Team:


“I hope… that each intern teaches the youth something that they will be able to use later on in life.”


“Everybody knows young kids often copy off older cool kids and maybe if we are doing positive things in and for our community they will want to too.”

“I want… to make it feel safe in their community.”

“The activities I want to pursue with the kids are arts and crafts, painting, sports, and walking to other parks around the area.  I also propose that we have a day we go walking and pick up the trash on the streets.  We should also work in the garden and with other groups in BYP to see what kind of things they do.  I want to make it fun for kids and I want them to learn things from this summer with us such as manners, better word vocabulary, and better ways to deal with things in a positive way.  We could do academic work with the subjects they have trouble with in school.  I want the kids to learn something new from us everyday and by doing it in a fun way.”

Media Team:


“I would like the media team to accomplish activities and projects where they use their own imagination to create their projects and there is no limit on what they can do, they have freedom to go out in Braddok on their own, when they get their team leaders trust. I would like my leadership activity to be leading a group in a activity, where i would gain leadership skills.  This summer i would like to branch out my leadership skills and become a better and skillful intern.  It’s a honor to work for the BYP, where you get to see your ideas help the community.”


“I would like to accomplish meeting new youth and interacting with them this summer.”

“I would like us to capture all of Braddock and its wonders and horrors.”

Thank you to all of the youth who allowed me to share their personal aspirations for the upcoming summer.  I look forward to working alongside all of you and to welcoming a new group of BYP teens.

Jessi Schmid, BYP Program Coordinator


Summer Program Update

“We appreciate all of the interest and inquiries we have been receiving regarding applications for this year’s summer program.  We are currently awaiting funding information and hope to have applications available in May.  Check back on our website or facebook page for updated information.”