Continuing to work for change
May 28, 2003
Audrey Partington
Special to The Gazette

Submitted photo

New leaders of Project Change in Olney are ready to continue the organization's goal of providing positive opportunities for youth.

New leaders installed at Project Change

A new group of leaders will guide Project Change for another year.

The new officers were installed May 15 at Sandy Spring National Bank.

Founded in 1998, Project Change is a collaboration of teens and adults committed to improving the community by providing positive opportunities for youth.

The group has participated in community activities such as the Olney Days Parade, Olney's National Night Out and the Montgomery General Hospital Woman's Board Picnic and Bazaar.

Following welcoming remarks by outgoing student presidents Khalid Walker and Leeza Luncheon, and incoming adult advisor and president Ellen Lent, Project Change co-founders Stephanie Bryn, Brandan Bryn and Anne Moriarty presented a history of the organization.

Project Change grew out of National Organizations for Youth Safety, or NOYS. Brandan Bryn, Katie Yee and Tony DeCicco, then students at Sherwood High School and members of NOYS, conceived of a group that would be the voice of Olney youth.

Bryn was the adult advisor to NOYS, and Mandy Woodfield and a dozen other Sherwood students joined Project Change to make the idea a reality.

While Project Change has not yet realized its long-term goal of establishing a teen center, the organization continues to sponsor activities at various local venues such as Longwood Recreation Center, schools, parks and pools, according to Partington. A grant from Montgomery County's Department of Recreation helps to sponsor the group's large events.

"We believe that this teen-led organization makes a difference in the Olney community, and we hope it grows even stronger with the support of everyone in this room," said Kulley Bancroft, vice president for public, community and investor relations at Sandy Spring Bank. "Do not underestimate your power."

The bank has long been committed to youth projects, and was a founding financial supporter of Project Change.

Del. Karen Montgomery (D-Dist. 14), a Brookeville resident, challenged Project Change youths to make a difference by becoming involved in a legislative initiative aimed at recycling toxic mercury. She offered any interested youths the opportunity to work with her in Annapolis this summer to pass legislation requiring dentists to properly recycle mercury.

Outgoing co-president Walker, a senior at Sherwood High School, gave a heartfelt thanks to the adult leaders.

He recalled a particularly rough time in his life when Project Change founder Bryn visited him at his place of work and gave him a hug.

"Project Change is built on the bond between kids and adults," he said.

Acknowledging the skills he has gained through the group, outgoing treasurer Tony Dunn said, "Project Change allows us to be teenagers and leaders at the same time."

Audrey Partington is an adult leader of Project Change and head of the communications committee. For more information, visit the Project Change Web site at