My name is Te’Shawn Merritt, or Mayweather (after Floyd Mayweather Jr.) as some of my teammates call me . I am a member of South Bronx United. I play for the club’s U17 travel team, the SBU 94 Spartans. I am one of the current captains of the team. It was an honor to receive the captains armband and something that every player should hold with pride.

The executive director, several other SBU team captains and I went to a youth summit on November 17th at the UJA-Federation on 59th Street in Manhattan.  We attended along with nearly 100 high school students from other schools and youth organizations across New York City.  Every borough, except Staten Island, was well represented.  We attended workshops led by some of the city’s experienced community leaders to help us develop as leaders and organizers in our community.

What I got out most from the event was the when we brainstormed and discussed ideas on how to deal with various community problems in our neighborhoods, such as racism, gang violence, bullying, peer pressure, and LGBT issues.  As a group, we chose to discuss how to address gangs and violence in the South Bronx. We brainstormed how new gang members are uneducated as to how the group came about. There were ideas thrown in the air as to how people in the community can organize programs to keep kids off the street so they can avoid the wrong influences. Keeping kids out of gangs can and giving them the right influence would improve their grades, social interactions with others and lower crime rates for an overall better community. Crime in has been rising (slowly but surely) in the Bronx, as the economy has been a heading down hill for the past several years.  With a rising percentage of job cuts and unemployment, kids are looking towards stealing to get money and  valuables. Children are fighting over nonsensical problems, like facebook comments, (“I dont like how he/she acts sometimes”) , etc.  The youth of today are in need of guidance to avoid all of the unneeded and unwanted violence and animosity towards each other.

South Bronx United is helping combat these problems by giving kids a constructive environment to be in, encouraging youths to occupy their time wisely by playing sports (such as soccer) and focusing on academics, and encouraging the joining of school clubs and so on.  We want to do more.  Due to this event, the captains decided to tackle this problem.  Our first step is this article.  Next, we hope to make other kids more aware of the problem.