In partnership with the Episcopal Lutheran Alliance and the Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal, the Act Your Best (AYB) Online Summer Enrichment Program will feature a special web-based event with the world famous United States Air Force Thunderbirds on Friday, July24, 2020 at 1pm(10am on the West coast), livestreamed on Boxcast, YouTube, and Facebook Live.
In this historic, first-time event for the Homewood South community, the Thunderbirds will interact with AYB youth online with live presentations including interviews with the pilots and crews, stories from the cockpit and inspirational words from the aviators and airmen.
The Thunderbirds are known for their air shows where they have wowed millions around the country and the world with their precision aerial maneuvers. But in this online event from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, the Thunderbirds will interact with youth from the AYB program, talking about aviation and the mission of the U.S. Air Force.
The online appearance of the Thunderbirds was coordinated by AYB instructor, Al Monroe, himself a former Air Force pilot who now flies commercially for United Airlines. “It has been an honor to bring the Thunderbirds to speak with youth from the Homewood community of Pittsburgh. The youth will have unprecedented access to the pilots, hopefully inspiring them to achieve even greater things,” said Monroe.
The Rev. Torrey O. Johnson, the Priest-in-Charge at Holy Cross and the creator of the AYB program, and Chaplain Major in the Air Force Reserves with the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh, is excited to be a part of this pilot event with the Thunderbirds. “In the Act YourBest Program, we are developing and training future leaders and I am overjoyed to have the Thunderbirds join us in this third year of our program,” said Rev. Johnson. historichcpa.org (412) 242-3209 elallianceinc.org (412) 242-8660
The Thunderbirds’ AYB appearance is a first-time online effort of the USAF to expand its reach into the African American community through its“people-to-people” programming. The Homewood South community in Pittsburgh continues to experience urban blight including crime, economic and housing inequality, even with pockets of economic recovery through gentrification.
“Exposing disadvantaged youth to other opportunities and career paths is the key to improving their social and upward mobility,” said Rev. Johnson. The AYB Program began in the summer of2018 featuring onsite music, dance, tutoring, gardening and field trips for under-served youth. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the AYB program was transferred to online learning featuring classes in website development, audio and video production, drone operation, community and home gardening and classes in playing the steel drums and harmonica.
“What we are doing here is part of the calling of the Black church,” said Minister Mardy Ringer, a candidate seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), who instructs the youth online in audio and video production from Atlanta, Georgia. “This program is a great example of how online learning can be made exciting and engaging,” said Ringer.
Sylvia Wilson is the AYB Program Director and also the President of the Pittsburgh Public School Board, and she said that it was imperative that the enrichment program continue this summer. “This is a great opportunity to be able to connect our youth with business professionals and civic leaders offering online learning instead of in-person, on-site training”.
Wilson said that using technology to train leaders has been challenging but rewarding. “We are using this online teaching medium creatively to engage our youth and the Thunderbirds program is a great addition to this new way of educating,” she said.
The AYB Online Summer Enrichment Program is supported by grants from: the POISE Foundation – strengthening Black families and building a sustainable Black community in the Pittsburgh Region; the AHRCO Company, and Lara and Nancy Washington. Celebrating its 145th anniversary this year, the Historic Church of the Holy Cross is located in the Homewood South community of Pittsburgh and the appearance of the Thunderbirds will be a highlight of this year’s events.
Join the online event live on Friday, July 24 at this
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