Building Community in West Philadelphia – A Racap of our Juneteenth Celebration

By, Neanta Parnell

West Philadelphia knows how to party. Home to the largest Juneteenth Celebration in the nation, the West Philadelphia community came together at Malcolm X Park to share love and support on a day that represents freedom for the Black community; 79% of the population in that area.

Black owned, local vendors set up shop selling goods like wire-wrapped crystals, food inspired by their grandma’s cookbooks, and art reflecting the beauty that is Blackness and the Black experience. Inner Staff members Neanta, Amelia, Jai, and Alyson tabled at the event, sharing Inner Strength programming with parents, teachers, and organizations small and large, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

People visiting our table shared comments like, “Students really need this kind of programming.” and “My son has been so stressed out lately. I’m glad you guys are here.”. Our vision resonated with event goers enough for The Spirit, a Pennsylvania-based newspaper in service of Philadelphia and Delaware communities, to give us a shout-out  in their June newspaper:

“Among the social service organizations there was Inner Strength Education (ISE), a tax-exempt nonprofit that works with teens and educators in high schools to provide trauma-sensitive tools such as emotional learning.

“We help them understand what’s going on inside the teenage brain and how it relates to their current experience and perspective,” said Alyson Showell LaPorta, ISE’s director of Communications and grant administrator. “It gives them support and the ability to navigate through the trauma that so many teens are experiencing. […] “We are not mental health providers, but we can provide tools that help mitigate exposure to trauma and for people who are suffering from complex trauma like isolation from the pandemic, poverty, and lack of access to healthcare. We try to address these issues through mindfulness practices that can look like meditation, learning to breathe, and learning different ways of controlling anger.”

Our passion for encouraging youth to reach their highest potential was well received by the community, and we’re grateful to the organizers, other participants, and everyone from the neighborhood and city who came out and stopped by to say hello and learn how to be healthy and thrive.


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