Summer has come to a close for the 73 youth participating in the Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Neighborhood Corps and, at a wrap-up party, all eight teams assembled and shared their projects and learning experiences.
From garden rehabilitation to painting bridges and rain barrels, the Mayor’s Neighborhood Corps tackled clean-up and beautification of select areas of Cleveland. It’s all part of the City of Cleveland and Mayor Jackson’s initiative to reduce violence and crime through the Office of Prevention, Intervention, and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults.
Chief of Prevention, Intervention, and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults Duane Deskins was on hand to congratulate participants on a productive and fruitful summer. He says the changes made during the summer program aren’t only the cosmetic, but rather in the participants themselves.
“I look at what these kids did this summer, and I look at what the summer did to these kids. That is the change we want,” Chief Deskins explains. “The improvements in the gardens and murals are all fine, they’re all good but the indelible mark that this program made on our kids, will last not only their lives but also our lives and maybe the lives of the people of this city. And, that’s really the heart of it; that these kids went through mentoring, they experienced mentoring not because the program had it in the name, it’s because the program had it in the heart. Each of these kids understood that so clearly that when you look at some of them, I remember them when they started, and I look at them now, I see leaders in there. I see people who can come together and solve problems together.”
Overwhelmingly, students voiced appreciation for the program and the lessons they were able to learn through their work. One participant of the Kinsman Mayor’s Neighborhood Corps group said he enjoyed learning about gardening but what really stuck with him was how the lessons he learned in the garden with his team could be applied to his everyday life.
The Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Summer Youth Employment Program was created from an initiative of Mayor Jackson to provide economic opportunity for Cleveland teens when he first took office in 2006. Fire hydrant painting was the first job offered to teens in 2007.
In 2012, a free course in Environmental Science from Cleveland State University was added. Students take the class for free and get paid to work on projects relating to topics covered in class. In addition to working and going to class, program participants will have the opportunity to discover Cleveland in a new way.
Today, Y.O.U. and The Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Summer Youth Employment Program offers teens a variety of jobs and internships.