Are you ready to hear what young people have to say?

Around Town

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Center for Teen Empowerment in Rochester is giving young people a platform to express themselves and the opportunity to create change in their world.

This year the organization’s annual community event is entitled Virtual Reali-TE. It will take place online on Thursday, June 17 with the digital program beginning at 11 a.m.

Register now at

Rochester Director Doug Ackley and Youth Organizer Myqyng Arline discussed the event and their view of our current circumstances Tuesday during News 8 at Noon.

“Virtual Reali-TE this year is going to give all of the participants who sign up an awesome look at Teen Empowerment,” said Ackley. “One of the things we’re saying is it’s going to be a VIP experience. You’re going to get vision, impact, and power to really see how Teen Empowerment works, our vision of where we’re headed in terms of growing in this community, and all of the impact that young people have had over the years and hopefully will have to come, and really what we talk about at Teen Empowerment is right in the name but is the power of young people.”

COVID-19 pandemic restrictions did not prevent Teen Empowerment from having an impact on Arline in his role as a Youth Organizer. “At Teen Empowerment we did a lot of things that brought me outside of my comfort zone but in a good way,” he said. “Teen Empowerment made me speak up more publicly and to my peers and it brought the social side of me out.”

Amidst the pandemic, the social justice movement, and city violence over the last year, Arline has found a way to stay grounded. “It’s just been a real chaotic year for us in Rochester but I try to stay to myself, stay to my music, stay to TE, and stay to the peace because there’s a lot of violence going on and it’s violence that goes on even amongst our youth that can get pretty out of hand as well, but I still try to just remain myself.”

Virtual Reali-TE will give voice to Arline and his peers – and perhaps broaden the perspective of adults who attend. “I think the important thing is that we meet young people where they are,” Ackley said. “This year for young people has been absolutely unprecedented. We need to get out. We need to meet young people where they are. We need to understand what they’ve experienced and we need to begin to listen to them and to heal some of the trauma that has taken place this year or we’re going to see it get carried out in multiple ways that are both destructive and self-destructive. One of the pieces that we’re highlighting at Virtual Reali-TE this year is actually interviews with young people about what this past year has been like for them. So, if you’re out there and you’re asking, what have young people been through this year – tune in on June 17 to Virtual Reali-TE and listen to what young people are saying. They’re going to bring you the challenges and they’re also going to bring you the hope and inspiration that I think we all need to get through this next phase.”

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