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Champions of Change: Celebrating Juneteenth by Honoring the Humanitarian Legacies of Brittany, Paulana, and Therese

As we reflect on Juneteenth's enduring significance, we are inspired by the visionary leaders who are spearheading the fight for equity and justice in our communities. Brittany Young, Paulana Lamonier, and Therese Myers are remarkable individuals whose humanitarian efforts transform lives and pave the way for a more inclusive future.

Through their groundbreaking work, these trailblazers are breaking down barriers and championing the empowerment of marginalized communities. Brittany's STEM education initiatives ignite a passion for innovation in young people, while Paulana's mission of swimming inclusivity shatters stereotypes and provides access to a vital life skill. Therese's dedication to nurturing the creativity and confidence of young women is equipping the next generation with the tools they need to unlock their full potential.

Let us be inspired by the stories of these extraordinary leaders and their unwavering dedication to creating a more equitable and just society for all.

Brittany Young: Empowering Communities Through Innovation and Advocacy

Brittany Young's story and her groundbreaking organization, B-360, shine as a beacon of hope, empowerment, and the transformative power of compassionate innovation. Her journey exemplifies the resilience and determination that defines the Juneteenth spirit.

Growing up in Baltimore, she witnessed firsthand the barriers and systemic challenges faced by her community, particularly in the realm of education and access to opportunities. Determined to make a difference, Brittany embarked on a mission to unlock the innate genius within the youth she served, empowering them to pursue their dreams and shatter the limitations imposed by societal expectations.

In 2017, Brittany founded B-360, a non-profit organization that leverages the power of dirt bike riding to inspire and educate young people. Through her innovative approach, she recognized the immense potential in a pastime often misunderstood and stigmatized, transforming it into a gateway to STEM education, workforce development, and community engagement.

At the heart of B-360's work lies the belief that every individual has the capacity to thrive, given the right resources and support. Brittany and her team have created a nurturing environment where young people, particularly those from underserved communities, can explore their interests, develop critical skills, and envision a future where their dreams are not constrained by circumstance.

Through hands-on workshops, mentorship programs, and community outreach, B-360 has empowered countless youth to embrace their creativity, cultivate their problem-solving abilities, and unlock pathways to educational and professional success. By immersing participants in the world of dirt bike engineering, maintenance, and racing, Brittany has opened the door to many STEM-related fields, inspiring the next generation of innovators and leaders. 

The impact of B-360's work extends far beyond the individual level; it has profoundly influenced the Baltimore community. The organization has served over 9500 youth under the age of 16, employed/diverted 67 former street riders, and saved $3.1 million in taxpayer dollars by employing those at risk of incarceration.

Additionally, B-360 has achieved an 81% decrease in dirt bike arrests in Baltimore City, a 45% improvement on Maryland standardized testing, and a 75% decrease in confiscated dirt bikes from 2018 to 2023, resulting in $233 million in taxpayer dollars saved by providing programming to people under 16.  

Brittany's unwavering commitment to fostering inclusivity, breaking down stereotypes, and creating opportunities where they were once scarce has led to a tangible transformation. Young people who might have otherwise been marginalized or overlooked are now thriving, their aspirations supported, and their voices amplified.  

Brittany Young's story and the work of B-360 stand as a testament to the power of resilience, community, and the transformative potential of compassionate leadership. By recognizing and cultivating the inherent brilliance within marginalized communities, Brittany and her team are paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive future, one that celebrates the Juneteenth spirit of freedom, dignity, and the relentless pursuit of justice for all.

Paulana Lamonier: Making Waves in the Community by Smashing Stereotypes

Paulana Lamonier's groundbreaking organization, Black People Will Swim, embodies the essence of Juneteenth through its unshakable dedication to empowering the Black community and breaking down barriers to swimming access and education. As a passionate advocate and mentor, Paulana has created a safe, inclusive, and nurturing space where individuals of all ages and swim levels can learn, thrive, and celebrate their aquatic abilities.

Currently, many Black children have no access to swim lessons at all. 64% of Black/African American children can’t swim, compared to 45% of Hispanic children and 40% of white children, according to the U.S.A. Swimming Foundation. Paulana's mission is straightforward yet profound: she is dedicated to smashing the stereotype that has long plagued the Black community. Through Black People Will Swim, she encourages individuals to F.A.C.E. their fears by Making the Promise to learn how to swim and serves as their accountability partner in taking the plunge together.

By providing targeted programming, Paulana, and her team have ignited a movement that resonates with the Juneteenth spirit of resilience, liberation, and the pursuit of equal opportunities. Through their efforts, more and more members of the Black community are discovering the joy and life-saving skills of swimming, empowering them to confidently engage with water-based activities and access the myriad health and recreational benefits that come with it.

Paulana's impact extends beyond the individual; her work has catalyzed a profound shift within the broader community, fostering a sense of unity, pride, and the belief that the barriers of the past need not define the future. As we honor Juneteenth, Paulana Lamonier's unwavering commitment to uplifting and empowering the Black community through swimming is a shining example of the transformative power of compassion, advocacy, and the relentless pursuit of equity.

Therese Myers: Empowering Young Women Through Creativity and Community 

Therese Myers' organization, Yes Girls Create (YGC), embodies the Juneteenth spirit of empowerment, community, and the pursuit of boundless possibilities for young women. Through her tireless efforts and steadfast belief in every girl's inherent worth and potential, Therese has created a transformative space where creativity, mentorship, and collective support converge to uplift the next generation of changemakers.

Therese and her team foster a nurturing environment where girls can explore their passions, collaborate with like-minded peers, and learn from inspiring mentors. They provide the tools and resources necessary for young women to unlock their full greatness. As they navigate the challenges and complexities of growing up, the participants of YGC are empowered to dream big, embrace their unique voices, and pave the way for a more equitable and inclusive future.

Therese's dedication to empowering the young women she serves reflects the essence of Juneteenth—a celebration of freedom, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of justice. Through YGC's continued in-person and virtual expansion, more girls gain access to the support, mentorship, and community they need to thrive, ultimately shaping a world where every young woman can confidently step into her full potential.

As we honor the significance of Juneteenth, let the legacies of Brittany, Paulana, and Therese inspire us to continue the fight for freedom, equality, and the realization of the fundamental truth that all people, regardless of their background, deserve the opportunity to thrive. Through their example, we are reminded that when visionary leaders come together, they can create a ripple effect that transcends boundaries and transforms lives.

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