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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Honor for the Honoree: New Vision Youth Up for Award


By Carmen Musick -

If the New Vision Youth had a theme song, it might be Alabama's "Angels Among Us."   In it, the songwriter proclaims his belief that there are angeles among us "to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the light of love."

For Johnnie Mae Swagerty, those are exactly the traits that make the older members of the New Vision Youth so special---and it's why INK is proud to recognize the gorup as one of its 2010 Students Who Make a  Difference honorees.  The older members of the group were nominated by Swagerty, the New Vision Youth director.

Those older members include Zena Huff, Briesha Camp, Diamond Wykoff and Javonte Lewis from Sevier Middle School;  Jessica Sensabaugh from Science Hill High School;  Chris Greer from Sullivan North;  Teiria Blye, Shakary Johnson, Victoria Price, Emmanuel Amaoka, Briasha Russell and Breton Leeper from Dobyns-Bennett;  Darius Davis from ETSU;  and David Lytle from Northeast State Community College.

"Most of the youth have been with New Vision Youth for 10 years," said Swagerty.  "They do outstanding volunteer work in the community."

The youth team up with other agencies to conduct a community clean-up twice each year.  They visit nursing homes and help with the Grandparents' Day Luncheon and the South Central Kingsport Senior Christmas Dinner.  They hand out fliers for Kingsport's Weed & Seed.

"They are involved with churches, they perform every second Sunday at the Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church.  They are partners with the city of Kingsport Parks and Recreation Community Services," Swagerty says.  "They help prepare baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas to distribute to needy families.  They write to our troops overseas, and are members of DEFY--Drug Education for Youth of Kingsport," she said.

The group also plays a pivotal role in the annual New Vision Black History Month program, and the kids' annual Easter Egg Hunt for which they partner with the Kingsport Senior Center.

They prepare care packages for college freshmen, help with the police department's Prescription Drug Program, and supervise the younger youth at the annual Splash Party.  Each year, they participate in three camps:  Bancroft Bible Camp, DEFY Camp and Path Finder's Camp.

They have served as youth representatives for the Johnson City Drug Coalition at a meeting about its Prescription Drug Program, and for the "Inasmuch Project" in Bristol.

Additionally, they host a halloween program go caroling at Christmas and help with the New Vision Youth Prom each spring.

This year, the New Vision Youth volunteered their time to help Keep Kingsport Beautiful clean up during and following the Dobyns-Bennett band competition.  They also traveled to Nashville to the Governor's Highway Safety Council's Lead and Live Youth Conference on underage drinking and driving and drugs.

The older members of the New Vision Youth program also serve as mentors for the younger children.

"These youth are well-mannered and respect each other and others.  When asked to volunteer to help out, they are always willing to give back to the community," Swagerty says.

"Known as New Vision Youth Guardian Angels, they are always supportive and ready to help anyone or any organization in Kingsport and have gone outside to help others."

Each year, INK accepts nominations from the public and honors at least two individuals or groups of stsudents who "Make a Difference" in their families, schools, neighborhoods, churches, or the world.  The honorees are selected from the nominees by a panel of staff members and INK advisory board members.