When you first meet 17-year-old J'Medrie, she may seem a little shy. But sit with this Northeast Hartford native for a moment and words like “clever” and “ambitious” will come to mind. These traits have made her an asset to the Youth Leadership Corps, part of Community Solutions' strategy to improve health, safety and economic prosperity in the low-income neighborhood of Northeast Hartford, CT.
We first met J’Medrie on Barber street, where she and her sister supplement their family income by selling lemonade and day-or-two-old baked goods from a nearby bakery. The lemonade stand is just the beginning for a girl who recently hosted a recycled materials fashion show at City Hall and is currently campaigning to become Miss Teen Connecticut.
Today, J'Medrie is working with our Youth Leadership Corps to improve the quality and freshness of the food her neighbors eat.
Northeast Hartford notoriously lacks access to fresh foods, a contributing factor to the area’s poor health outcomes, but J’Medrie isn’t waiting on any adults to change that. Instead, as a Corps member, she is learning the basics of community organizing as she enlists her neighbors to help her plant vegetable gardens on vacant lots and to begin growing the healthy food that few local stores carry.
J’Medrie is demonstrating a powerful model for youth-led community change by getting more players on the field in Northeast Hartford. Her optimism is contagious, too– especially as May arrives and the neighborhood’s newest gardens bloom.