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Contact(s):Scott Carter
501-371-4421

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Monday, July 02, 2007

NINE YOUTH FROM LITTLE ROCK TO VISIT NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM

(Monday, July 2, 2007) – The old saying goes “Bringing Coal to Newcastle.” This summer, nine Little Rock youth and three chaperones will not be bringing coal to Newcastle, but will be bringing a touch of Little Rock to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This week-long visit is the result of a collaboration between Little Rock’s Sister Cities Commission, Commission on Children, Youth, and Families, and New Futures for Youth, Inc.

Prior to departure next week, the delegation met with Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola today to discuss their trip. Little Rock and Newcastle are affiliated as Friendship Cities through Sister Cities International. Over the past decade, two youth delegations have visited Little Rock; the most recent was in 2004.

The young people were selected from the Youth Initiative Project (YIP) funded by the City of Little Rock. The mission of YIP is to do away with the need for gangs and violence in the lives of young people. The YIP sites were established in areas with the highest level of violent incidents in which juveniles were either victims or perpetrators based on Little Rock Police Department crime statistics. Positive activities are offered as alternatives to activities associated with gangs.

The group has been meeting together since January to prepare for the trip. They have learned about Newcastle and about England in general. They have also learned about Little Rock in order to be good representatives of their city. 

The project is designed to build a stronger connection to the community for the youth participants and expose them to the world outside their own city, state and country. Some of the youth participants have not previously traveled outside Arkansas and others have traveled only to neighboring states.

City leaders in Newcastle have planned activities for the youth while they are in England. The activities include visits to schools, youth clubs, sports facilities and other youth-related locations.

The trip is being funded through private donations and not from City funds. Additional donations are still needed in order to reach the fundraising goal for the project. Contributions can be made online with a credit card by logging on to www.lrsistercities.org and clicking on “Make a Donation.” Checks can be sent to the Little Rock Sister Cities Foundation at P.O. Box 2556, Little Rock, AR 72203. Contributions are tax deductible.

The attendees are:

Rakya DeLoch
Greater 2nd Care You Go Girl Female YIP
Joe T. Robinson H.S.
Rakya is interested in developing her leadership abilities and doesn’t mind stepping out of her comfort zone to do that. She loves to write poems, stories and sayings. She is interested in journalism and will keep the group’s trip journal. In Newcastle, she would like to sightsee and visit governmennt offices, schools, youth programs, and museums.

Mercedes Hampton
Whetstone Male YIP
McCllellan H.S.
Mercedes considers himself a leader and is interested in meeting diverse groups of people. In Newcastle he would like to visit schools and youth programs, and attend a sporting event.

Elgin Harris
Step Up Male YIP
McCllellan H.S.
Elgin is a top athlete and natural leader. He curious about a lot in English culture, including the way they make their music and the rules of sporting games that he is unfamiliar with. He would like to see as many as possible of the sights in Newcastle.

Makara McDaniel
BCD Female YIP
McCllellan H.S.
The only thing Makara is not that interested in is taking notes and writing. Otherwise, in developing her leadership abilities, using computers and the internet, playing and listening to music, and making friendships with people of a different country, she is a 10. She would like to learn more about the English form of government and sees this trip as an adventure race.

Cortez Miles
BCD Male YIP
McCllellan H.S.
Cortez is interested in developing leadership abilities, bridging cultural diiferences and making new friends in Newcastle. While there he would like to sightsee, visit governmennt offices and youth programs, and attend a sporting event.

Sandrekkia Morning
Greater 2nd You Go Girl Female YIP
Mablevale H.S.
Sandrekkia is a self-starter interested in developing her abilities in many areas. She would like to see a play while in England, and would enjoy performing a skit of the group’s own. Along with seeing the sights in Newcastle, she would like to go swimming, shopping and attend a sporting event. She thinks visiting subterranean London would be cool too.

DeOndre Shackelford
BCD Male YIP
Central H.S.
DeOndre wants to go to Newcastle to challenge his comfort zones. He likes the internet and listening to music. Playing basketball is his passion and he challenges the best players in Newcastle to a game. While there he would like to sightsee, visit schools and other youth programs, and attend a sporting event.

Corey Thomas
Unto Others Male YIP
McCllellan H.S.
Corey is interested in developing leadership abilities, designing internet websites, and his music. While in Newcastle, he would like to visit governmennt offices, museums and schools, as well as attend a festival or sporting event. He would also like to see the malls, big houses and where the rich people live.

Deneetra Williams
BCD Female YIP
McCllellan H.S.
Deneetra is most interested in computers, the internet and web design. But she also admits to having feminine interests having to do with beauty, makeup and hair. She would like to see and know more about the hospital and health care system in England. While there she would like to sightsee, visit governmennt offices, schools and youth programs, and attend a sporting event. She sees the trip as a great adventure.

Adult Chaperones and Trip Makers
James Barron (Chaperone)
Unto Others Male YIP Cordinator

Carleena “Shay” Jones (Chaperone)
BCD Female YIP Coordinator

Ken L. Richardson
Deputy Director
New Futures for Youth


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