My name is Matthew Lugo, and I am 18 years old from Hunts Point in the Bronx. I serve on the P.S. 30 Citi team in Central Harlem. Attending New York City public schools was rough; there were few role models and the atmosphere was a violent one. Being part of a sports team gave me a positive outlook on life and prevented me from getting into negative influences in my neighborhood. Now as part of the City Year team, I am able to make a difference in children’s lives by being a role model and giving them that positive outlook on life.
As a team, we mentor the youth in our schools and try to teach them that behavior and respect are a big part of life. As a part of our tutoring with the students we run Great Leaps, a literacy program used by the schools to give students one-on-one attention. Through Great Leaps we are able to teach students literature and help them improve their spelling and reading ability. We also run an amazing program developed by City Year called Bringing Books To Life or BBL. With BBL, City Year gets children more interested in reading by going into a class and reading fun and educational books. The stories are given context by doing an activity that can range anywhere from drawing a picture to doing a play with the kids.
Starfish is one of City Year’s more prolific programs because it engages the kids with social issues in an after-school setting. We cover topics such as the economy and political issues going on in there neighborhood to keep the students aware of the issues surrounding them. This program also provides students with productive time outside of school hours to prevent them from getting caught up in any issues outside of school. I serve because I want children to understand that life on the streets isn’t the only option and that they can change their future like I did.