Carmel High School students promote literacy at Jack & Jill conference


By Mark Ambrogi



Olivia Suggs couldn’t think of a better way for her organization to get involved in the community.

As part of the 62nd Teen Leadership Conference of the Mid-Western Region of Jack & Jill of America hosted by the Indianapolis chapter, the African-American organization hosted literacy fairs July 8, at six YMCA locations and two Boys and Girls Clubs where they gave away 1,300 books.

“In the past, we’ve done mulching and cleaning up parks,” said Suggs, who will be a CHS senior. “This year, something we wanted to do differently was engage with the people we were helping. It was a great feeling to see their face light up when they see the books.”

Suggs said it meant even more that they were helping people from their own area.



“A lot of them were underprivileged and underserved,” Suggs said. “It was really touching to help these kids.”

Jason Davis, who will be a CHS sophomore, agreed.

“It was inspiring to help kids less fortunate than us,” Davis said.

Alexandria Hicks, a CHS senior-to-be, said the literacy fair was one of her favorite parts of the conference because of the reciprocal effect it created.

“Not only did we give the love of reading to children, but it also gave me a sense of purpose and passion and a unique perspective on how something so small can be so impactful,” Hicks said “ From the moment I began reading to the children, I couldn’t think of any other place I would rather be.”



Her brother, Malik, a CHS junior-to-be, and cousin, Katiana Breland, a CHS incoming senior, also attended the conference.

The conference activities included oratorical, visual-arts, social-engagement, presentation and dramatic-arts competitions.

“A lot of what we were talking about is finding what drives you,” Suggs said. “Being that it’s a region-wide conference, you are able to make connections with people from Kentucky, Minnesota to Indiana and Illinois.”

Suggs said those connections and friendships could be beneficial in the future.


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