American anthropologist, Margaret Mead, is known for her famous saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” The same thing could be said about teenagers.

Since 2005 J-Teen Leadership has been empowering Jewish teens in Westchester, New York to engage with Jewish values and build leadership skills while giving back to their community (and the wider world) through service.

With support from UJA-Federation of New York-Westchester, the teens have helped rebuild Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, embarked on service trips in Cuba, engaged in advocacy work through attending the PANIM institute and worked on local issues of poverty and hunger.

This past April, the J-Teen participants partnered with the AFYA Foundation to collect and organize medical supplies to send to Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck there in January.

The event, which was part of an International Day of Jewish Youth Service (J-Serve), was a huge success. More than 40 students co-coordinated the event, which drew 150 student participants from 16 area high schools. The teens’ combined efforts significantly contributed to the 600,000 pounds of relief and medical supplies that AFYA has shipped to Haiti since the earthquake.

J-Teen Leadership has exciting plans for growth in the coming year, including a new website and many service programs and events. Check back later this fall for more – in the meantime, check out this photo journal that documents J-Teen’s Help for Haiti project:

And don’t miss this great news segment about the impact J-Teen Leadership’s teens have had on helping to support and rebuild Haiti: