The Start of the BYP Summer Term


On Monday, June 29, the Braddock Youth Project Summer Term officially began.  Around 8:30 AM, adolescents aged fourteen through seventeen began walking through the door; an hour later, their numbers swelled to around seventy.   One by one, the youth stopped by the front desk, where Kimmi Ferry and Katie Lutzker assisted them in signing themselves in and filling out name tags.  For most of these kids, this was the first work day of their lives.




We were also reunited with the BYP Youth from the school year term, now serving as interns; it was a joy to get to see all of them again.  Pictured below are Chris Mullen (wearing sunglasses, seated front left), Essence Yancy (wearing a grey top, seated to the right of Chris), and Chawntay Doss (wearing a pink shirt, standing to the right).



Upon signing in, the youth sat down and began to fill out short surveys in which they were asked to write a word or short phrase to represent their hopes or expectations for the summer.  Their responses informed the first group activity of the day: The Snowball Game.



Jessi Schmid had everyone stand in a circle, crumple up their surveys, and throw them into the middle of the floor.  The youth then proceeded to pick up a random survey and represent its contents.



They were first instructed to gather into groups based on age.  Having done this, they were then instructed to gather into groups based on their level of excitement with regards to the Summer Term.



Pictured above are the youth as they transition to their different groups.



More transitioning.


The purpose of the activity-specifically, the ‘anonymization’ of the surveys-is to foster an honest representation of said surveys’ contents.  If a certain youth is feeling uncertain about the Summer Term, they’re not very likely to boldly go and stand with the ‘Uncertain’ group due to concern about how they might be perceived by their peer group.  This activity overcomes this complication because everyone is merely representing another person’s opinion.  It’s not ‘personal’, in other words.

The rest of the day was dedicated to trainings.  The youth were informed about payment and led through various workshops intended to instill an understanding of a professional environment, and how one should behave therein.

Lastly, we took their hopes and expectations from the surveys and compiled them into a chart.  The more frequent a response, the larger it appears on the chart.  “Fun” and “Money” were tied for (40)


Speaking personally, it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to play a role in giving adolescents their first professional experience.  All of us-the coordinators and the team leaders-have worked very hard to create a challenging, educational and fun experience for the youth this summer, and we are all very excited to impart our knowledge and skills.

-Brendan Renne

Media Team Coordinator, BYP

The Saints Tour


Over the past several months, it has been our distinct pleasure to collaborate with Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions on their upcoming Saints Tour, a mobile theater production in Braddock, North Braddock and Braddock Hills, PA.  BYP Youth have made a series of clay artifacts that play a central role in the performance, as well as screen-printed Saints Signs and Saints Cards for use in the performances.  In addition, BYP will be selling the Saints Cards and Signs at the end of the performances to raise money for future BYP activities.

Working with Bricolage and Real/Time Interventions has given our youth the chance to do commissioned creative work, which is very much a dream come true for a Work Readiness program.  It’s also given us the chance to participate in an exciting and unique project that’s going to be an entertaining, thought-provoking experience for all attendees.  We highly encourage you all to attend!

Here are some photos from the clay making workshop that took place here at BYP a few months back

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-Brendan Renne
Media Team Coordinator,

Last Day for School Term at BYP!



On Thursday, May 7, the Braddock Youth Project 2015 School Year Program came to a close.  Like many endings, it was a tad bittersweet;  although many of our youth will be back for the Summer Program, several of them are moving on.  Inaam Salik is going to school outside of Philadelphia, and Deisha Wiley and Keith Brown Jr. will begin working at Kennywood.  We’re very happy for all three of them; they were valued members of BYP and they will be missed.

We celebrated the last day of program by displaying various projects the Media Team and the Mentoring Team have worked on throughout these past months in the main space of the community center.


This is a Visual Voices exercise from back in February.  Both BYP and staff participated.


“Stained Plass” (Plastic + Glass) created by members of the Girls’ Club down at HOST.


BYP Youth Deisha Wiley and Americorps Intern Chawntay Doss, with the “Home Lost “quilt from Laura Ramie’s service project hanging in the background.


“What I Like About Me” flowers, also from the BYP Girls’ Club.


A selection of projects from the Media Team.  (Top Row L-R) Three Braddock Post Cards and the Nested Heads project, (Bottom Row L-R) Super-Imposed Pictures


(Top Row, L-R) Hundred Dollar Bills project, (Bottom Row, L-R) more Super-Imposed shots, with the “Ghost Fight” Light Painting exercise in the middle.


A selection of “Saints Cards” from our collaboration with the Bricolage Production Company and Real/Time Interventions.

We also did some grilling on the final day of program….



The day ended with all of us sitting and eating together and bidding one another farewell.

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Until July!

Mrs. Renne’s Delicious Snacks at BYP

This school year at BYP, the Renne family has contributed a lot to our program! We want to give special thanks to Joyce Renne for sharing her wonderful cooking and baking with us. Every week she contributed the most delectable homemade meals, desserts and snack platters. In this post we will share just a few of her stand-out food contributions.
Pancakes were a recurring favorite of the youth at BYP, and a staple during Maple Syrup season. Kept warm in a large slowcooker, and always served with Pennsylvania maple syrup and butter… Breakfast for snack is always welcome.
Mrs. Renne delighted us with seasonal specialties, such as this decadent Trifle for St. Patrick’s Day. This was a highly praised treat, wowing the youth with its layers of pudding, whipped cream, mint chocolate and Oreos. Other holiday treats included Groundhog Day Chocolate Bundt Cake (complete with a groundhog in the middle of the cake) and Fudgey Raspberry brownies for Valentine’s Day.
Along with an assortment of desserts (such as face-sized Chocolate chip cookies), Mrs. Renne made us the most filling comfort food, such as Lasagna with Garlic Bread and Macaroni and Cheese.
Towards the end of program, we were treated to the richest Oreo Cheesecake. Another favorite (not pictured), was homemade Poptarts.
Here’s a final thank you to Mrs. Renne was keeping the youth and staff happy and well-fed through the winter and spring. We can never thank her enough for the time and care she took to donate her cooking to us!


All About BYP Girl’s Club

This spring, BYP Jr. just finished a program for girls called BYP Girl’s Club. It was a series of six workshops for the girls at HOST (Heritage Out of School Time). Eleven girls participated, ages 8-14. The BYP youth attended as peer mentors for the younger girls. We had a wonderful time… here are some highlights from the sessions!
For the first session, we entered into the topic of self-esteem and self-confidence. We made paper flowers that explored the traits that we like about ourselves. We also did a planting project, which involved learning how to make origami seed planting pots out of newspaper squares. We planted zucchini, okra, and green beans. When the sprout they will be transplanted into a garden next to HOST!
Our second session involved thinking about inner beauty versus outer beauty ideals. We had a special guest join us, spokesmodel Jess Chernovet. She gave a presentation on the modeling industry and how we can foster inner beauty instead of focusing on outer beauty. We did an exercise in which we sorted the things we notice when we look in a mirror. To remind us of positive thoughts about ourselves, we made charms collaged with magazine clippings on recycled plastic lids.
The third session was all about food. To celebrate food and make new friends, we played a game that involved guessing what food was posted on your back, and then finding your food match. For example, one girl would find out that she was macaroni and she would have to find a girl who was cheese. After the game, we engaged in a “Battle of the Smoothies” cooking demonstration. We made two smoothies: Power Gold and Angel’s Favorite Strawberry Banana. We voted on our favorite-the group was fairly split in half on which was the best. After that, we made some cucumber-cherry tomato sandwiches.
For the fourth session we focused on feeling healthy, both emotionally and physically. We played some games about emotions: an exercise called “Up and Down,” in which we explored the feelings we encounter in daily life and supported one another, as well as Emotion Detective, in which it pays to be a reader of other’s emotions. To practice exercise to promote emotional health, we did a session of yoga. Maggie White visited and lead us in an awesome yoga session. We learned a little about India, and even picked up some Sanskrit!
Our fifth session revolved around creative expression and the arts. Our main project involved creating a recycled stain glass window panel. Each girl designed individual rectangles, repurposed from plastic salad containers. The project involved outlining our designs with marker and then painting the other side. Once glued together, all of the designs made a lovely window hanging! After painting, we also got a crash course in how to make a mini zine from one sheet of paper!
Our last session was about fostering leadership and community. Most of the session involved a public speaking exercise that got the girls super excited. This was their prompt: If you were suddenly crowned Queen of the World, what five laws would you make everyone follow? The girls wrote their responses on index cards. Then, they had the opportunity to stand behind a podium and declare their laws, and then answer questions posed by the group. After the speech making, we played a game in which we found commonalities with one another and made a web with yarn. This was an excellent way to end the spring sessions, because each girl cut a piece of yarn and tied it onto another girl’s wrist while giving her a compliment.

Thank you to the following for making BYP Girl’s Club possible: Junior League, New Voices Pittsburgh, Jessica Schmid, Flavia Bleahu, Michele Blazina, Dr. Lisa Hinkleman, Gisele Fetterman, and Maria Cruz. Special thanks to the four young women who acted as peer mentors: Chawntay, Brandy, Angel and Deisha. Thank you also for our special guests: Jess Chernovet, Maggie White, Jenn Stover, and Alicia Luke. I also appreciate the added support of fellow BYP Staff: OnTae Smith, Brendan Renne, Evelyn Greene and Katya McCoy. And of course, thank you to all of the young ladies who participated!