Youth step it up for Stand Up

The Baltimore Sun

The runway stretched only the width of the stage, but Jermaine Rose made the most of it. Strutting in a hot-pink T-shirt, a tweed blazer slung over his shoulder, he made his turn toward backstage, flinging the jacket to the audience, as if they would expect such catwalk theatrics.

Yesterday's fashion show fundraiser for Stand Up for Kids, a local charity aimed at helping homeless youths, may have been a debut event. But Rose, an 18-year-old Harbor City High School student, was no amateur.

"I know how to sew, to hot glue, all of that," said Rose, who met with Stand Up for Kids volunteers weekly, sometimes more often, to design a line of clothes for the show.

With assistance from Arndrea Hoyle, a Baltimore City Community College fashion design teacher, and Patrice Bell, a special education teacher at Harbor City, about a dozen students at the alternative school tailored second-hand finds and created outfits as part of the after-school program.

"This show was a kid's idea," said Charisee Lue, one of two executive directors at Stand Up for Kids' Baltimore branch. "It blew up to this."

The event, held yesterday afternoon at Sonar Club, drew about 100 supporters and featured performances by singers affiliated with Precision Youth Power Program and films from Wide Angle Youth Media.

"We needed something to show we're here, and we're trying," Lue said.

Lemera McCain, an 18-year-old Harbor City student who lives with an aunt, got help with sewing from Bell and Hoyle.

"She was our boss. We were working for her," said Hoyle, whose own line of clothes - JAK Wear - was also modeled for the show.

McCain said she enjoyed her modeling stint.

"I love fashion," she said. "I want to professionally model. I love Gisele, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell ..."

The nonprofit began offering after-school tutoring at Harbor City High School in March. Although not all of the students involved in the program are currently homeless, they are part of a demographic at risk to live on the streets and drop out of school, said Lue.

"It's a cycle we want to break," she said. "We brought in speakers to let the kids know what kind of jobs are out there. We took them on a tour of Towson University, so they could see a college campus. ... We want them to know: It can be a little better."

Based in San Diego, the nonprofit has chapters in more than 50 cities, including in Baltimore and Washington, according to the organization's Web site.

More information:

The name of one of the executive directors of the Baltimore branch of Stand Up for Kids was misspelled in yesterday's Maryland section. It is Charisse Lue.The Sun regrets the error.
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