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‘I AM …’: Speaker works to empower Philly preteens, July 2019

Donovan Forrest, DBHIDS Summer 2019 Intern

Young Philadelphia boys and girls screamed their positive messages about themselves for all to hear when Donovan Forrest brought his message to them this month at Ace Camp in West Philadelphia. Ace Camp participates with the Madeline Moore Summer Camp Grant program offered by DBHIDS.

Forrest, executive director of DonCARES of Philadelphia, worked with DBHIDS Operations/Fiscal (OpsFis) unit this summer through the Mayor’s Internship Program. His activities included visits to local area summer camps that partner with the grant program.

Forrest was asked to speak to 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds July 1 at the summer program hosted at Martha Washington Elementary School, 766 N. 44th St. in the Belmont neighborhood of West Philadelphia.


After connecting with the children via his own upbringing as a product of the Philadelphia School System and a North Philadelphia native, Forrest asked each child to write “I AM” on a sheet of paper, along with something positive about themselves.

He circled the room and saw numerous positive traits on the papers: powerful, beautiful, athletic, and smart.
Once they wrote on the sheets, decorated, and shared with each other, Forrest had one more expectation.
He asked the students to stand shoulder to shoulder and hold their papers to the sky.

“Now on the count of three, I want everyone at home, in your neighborhood, and in New Jersey to hear what you are,” he exclaimed, getting a powerful response from those attending.

Forrest said he knows what he said to the students about perseverance may not stick eight years from now, but that he wholeheartedly believes children are the equivalent of all the times caring adults make them smile and all the moments that make them dance.

The OpsFis unit hosts summer interns each year. We value the enthusiasm, commitment and contribution they bring as demonstrated by Donovan’s passion to encourage this group of campers.