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Approximately 165 members of the community gathered in Houston Hall this past Sunday to witness oratorical and essay contests organized by TeenShop. Every two weeks, TeenShop participants engage in workshops, field trips and community projects. Founded in 1986 by KYW-TV reporter Eleanor Jean Hendley, the award-winning organization seeks to prepare today's teenagers for future leadership. The group consists entirely of young African American women between the ages of 13 and 19. TeenShop board member Priscilla Pearson organized the contests with the support of Director of the Office of Community Relations Glenn Bryan. Bryan, along with Assistant Director of City and Commonwealth Relations Sid Holmes, helped judge the contests. Four young women were chosen as finalists in the oratorical contest, and three winners were announced in the essay contest. The contest winners were awarded scholarship money and trophies. Although all of the group's members are African American, and most reside in Philadelphia, the organization is open to all young women who do not have children. "TeenShop creates positive peer pressure," Pearson said. She added that the group encourages continued education and discourages drug and alcohol use. Twenty-five people volunteer for TeenShop on a regular basis for the three chapters in the Philadelphia area. Pearson said TeenShop publicizes through local schools, churches and community centers. Five volunteers work for an additional chapter in Los Angeles. "We expose them to college and career opportunities," Pearson said. She added that every TeenShop advisor has attended college. Group participants have visited college campuses this year, and members of the medical and legal professions have spoken to TeenShop members as well. "Workshops have included exposing the young women to the dangers of drugs and the current problem of teenage pregnancy," Pearson said. Comcast CableVision, one organization sponsoring Sunday's event, donated $5,000 toward the scholarships awarded at the contest.

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