May 2019

#BoyTalk Forum Boosts Teens’ Self-Esteem

By Stephen E. Lipken


The New Rochelle Youth Bureau presented a Leadership Forum for young men grades 8-12, entitled “#BoysTalk” on Thursday, April 25th in Council Chambers, City Hall, the topic being “YourWorth,” contributing to youths’ self-esteem, enabling them to select worthwhile goals and make the right choices in their lives.


Moderated by Kelly Johnson, Executive Director, New Rochelle Youth Bureau, a panel consisted of Robert Bynum, Security Expert, New Rochelle City School District and  a Facilities Manager for Parks and Recreation; Matthew Claffee, Co-Coordinator, STRIVE Leadership Academy; DJ Juanito from Hot97 Radio; Joel Fridovich, Principal, New Rochelle Alternative High School; Robert Hayes, owner, Beechmont Tavern, President, New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce and boards, New Rochelle Historical Society, NR Pride (LGTBQ Committee); Jeff Hopwood, City School Teaching Assistant and Rafael Maciel, Proprietor, Maciel’s Barber Shop.


“We are here today to share with you that our experiences as young people and your experiences are not that much different. It may be a different time and you may dress differently, but the experiences we went through as young men are not different from what you are going through now. The propose of the day is to let you know you have worth.  Once you know and find your purpose, then you know that you have worth,” Johnson stated.


Johnson posed the question, “Go back to when you were 14.  Based on who you are now, what advice would you give to your 14-year-old self?”  “Patience,” Juanito replied.  “Cherish being a kid,” Hopwood noted.  Time is of essence.” Johnson’s second question was, “What did you have to change about yourself?”  Maciel answered that people you associate with rub off on you.  “One rotten fruit makes the rest bad in the basket.  I started cutting hair at 17.  Nobody will give you handouts.  Don’t be ashamed to be the person you are.”


“Believe in myself,” Hopwood offered.  “I’m the person you have to satisfy.  Don’t be scared to take a loss.  Have more faith.”




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