At the age of 16, Edwin Johnson and family members were homeless, living in an abandoned building by the Feldheym Library. The creation of the organization came from Johnson’s dedication to ensure youth in San Bernardino have an outlet to get away from the poverty and abuse he underwent as an adolescent.
It was two years ago that Johnson founded the non-profit, “Creating Hopeful Opportunities and Resiliency by Developing Skills, better known by its acronym C.H.O.R.D.S. to try to help the city’s at-risk youth learn skills that could help them be productive citizens.
On October 4, Johnson and his young mentees may have made
their first big impact on the future of the young community by celebrating the launch of their new magazine, Center of Youth (COY). The publication intends to inform the younger residents of San Bernardino about some of the city’s social issues, while also providing insight on the latest musical, cultural, and artistic trends. The magazine is produced and published exclusively by the C.H.O.R.D.S. youth.
Several of the city’s community leaders were present to celebrate the magazine launch. Mayor Carey Davis was called up by the event’s MC and C.H.O.R.D.S. member Maurice Parson, 12, (also known as ‘Fruit Snacks’ by his peers). Davis emphasized the importance of setting goals and encouraged the community to support their recent endeavor.
“Each of the participants and attendees have goals that they set,” Davis said. “As they continue to withstand and overcome temptation, it is important that they show honor and show appreciation and gratitude to those who committed their time, efforts, and talents. Let’s continue to encourage for they can be able to grow.”
The event’s guest speaker was San Bernardino City Unified School District board member Dr. Margaret Hill. The longtime teacher and student advocate recently published a book titled, It’s All About the Children, that provides her experiences in education and her commitment to student success. She believes the youth involved with C.H.O.R.D.S. have what it takes.
“It doesn’t matter how small or how large the group is,” she said. “It’s the productivity that counts. And I know these people are hard workers.”
“There’s something for all of you,” Hill said, addressing the youth. “Any goal that you set for yourself, you can do it.”
Hill also commended Johnson’s work in helping San Bernardino’s youth stay away from gangs. She said she cringes everytime she picks up a newspaper and learns that another young person has been killed as a result of violence.
“We have to stop killing our people because that’s not the way to go,” said Hill. “We need to pick up a pen and put down the gun. A pen is a lot cheaper and it will do more damage than a gun.”
The event also included a hip-hop performance from Parson and his colleagues, Jeremiah “Young J” McCoy, Dustin “Dab” Baker, and Mitchell P. Young and a dance performance from the Kakilambe West African Dance group led by UCR professor Makeba Kumasi.
McCoy, 16, said he was satisfied with the group’s efforts in organizing the magazine and is looking forward to garnering more participation from local youth.
“I was confident in our performance,” he said. “We’re a team. We all got together and helped Edwin do his thing and helped write the magazine. It was fun writing, making tracks, and performing and I hope we can continue to do this for a long time and help other youth.”
For information on how you can receive a copy of the magazine, contact Edwin Johnson at (909) 658-9550.
Anthony Victoria is the community editor for the El Chicano and Colton Courier and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (909) 381-9898 Ext. 208