Local Far Rockaway youth joined Queens Defenders’ Youth Ambassadors program learning valuable lessons about themselves and giving back to their community. 

This summer, the Rockaway Community Justice Center welcomed five local Far Rockaway youth to be the inaugural cohort in the Queens Defenders Youth Ambassadors program.  This summer program was an opportunity for these remarkable young people to develop skills, gain work experience, and explore a personal community-focused project. Each youth Ambassador worked closely with our team to give back to their community, develop their personal project, and ultimately present their idea at a culmination event at the end of the summer.


Over the course of the summer, the Youth Ambassadors gained experience working in an office, participating in community workshops, distributing food each week through the Queens Defenders Food Pantry, and assisting with community events. The Youth Ambassadors were also able to take part in the Queens Defenders Youth Justice Court at the Queens Public Library.

Each Ambassador’s individual passion project was focused on a sociopolitical topic of their choosing that would benefit their community.  The projects were focused on immigration, social emotional literacy, college prep, women’s empowerment, and expanding black history in schools.


Brianna Brunson, the Rockaway Community Justice Center Administrator and Coordinator for the program, stated, “The Youth Ambassadors brought so much positive energy, thoughtful discussion, and innovation to the Rockaway Community Justice Center this summer. The community-focused work they were able to accomplish here is truly a testament to the value of investing in our young people, and I’m excited to nurture this program for years to come.”

On August 22nd, the Youth Ambassadors were joined by community leaders, elected officials and other supporters at Beach Dunes Eats & Arts where they presented their projects and shared how they could help people across the Borough.  In addition to the Queens Defenders youth program team, the Youth Ambassadors spent time discussing their work with New York State Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson, Stuart Post, the Executive Director of the Meringoff Family Foundation, Vanessa Caesar, Director of Scheduling and Events from the office of District 31 Council Member Selvina Brooks-Powers, Colleen Babb, Executive Assistant District Attorney of the Community Partnerships Division from the Office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and other friends, family, and community stakeholders.

Meikha saw a need at his school when it came to the counselor to student ratio for high school students preparing to go into college. To fill this need, and for his passion project, he created a college prep website where students can have the hands on help a counselor may have provided including – taking a quiz to find their perfect school, links to resources about financing, and advocating for HBCU’s.

Students and parents can look through Meikha’s resource guide here!

For his passion project, Henry decided to put together a pamphlet of resources for undocumented individuals to avoid the frequent scams when trying to navigate the immigration system in the United States. Henry was invested in this topic as they watched their family experience these numerous scams firsthand.

Look at Henry’s Immigration resource pamphlet here!

Josette’s passion project pushes everyone to feel empowered through make-up and entrepreneurship. Josette, owner of her own lash business No Mistakes Beauty, she wanted to share her love of make-up with others and empowering individuals to take charge of their own person. She now does workshops for people to come and learn make-up tips.

Check out Josette’s tips in the presentation shared at the Youth Ambassador Showcase found here.

As an aspiring youth psychologist, Brianny’s passion project was to create a guidebook for parents to better understand how to promote emotional literacy in their kids. Brianny is determined to go forth with this career path and is eager to help youth connect with themselves.

Families looking to read through Brianny’s guidebook can do so here!

When it came to teaching black history Shadae kept seeing gaps in her school’s curriculum and decided to address them with her passion project!

She put together a way for students to petition their schools for more black studies in the K-12 curriculum as a required class. Shadae already put this in progress for the next year at her school, New Visions Academy, thanks to the Black Student Union that she organized.

Brandon Jeffries, Director of Youth Services notes, “We were so privileged to host this incredible group of aspirational young people this summer.  We couldn’t be prouder of Henry, Josette, Meikha, Brianny, and Shadae for their commitment, dedication to their communities, tireless efforts, and the excellent presentations they delivered.  We are confident their hard work will have a tremendous impact.”