Mayor Bowser Expands D.C. Summer Programs

By Lindday Calvin

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announces summer programs at the Edgewood Community Center. (Photo: Office of Youth Programs)

Mayor Muriel Bowser joined community members at the Edgewood Recreation Center on Monday to kick off summer programs to help young residents read, work and play.

Bowser, who recently announced that “D.C. is open,” concluding 18 months of quarantine due to COVID-19, now encourages residents to get out and enjoy the summer season. She invited D.C. students to participate in an array of programs that aim to keep them active and academically engaged, from summer camps to the D.C. Public Library’s #Read20 Summer Challenge, which runs through Aug. 31.

Students are encouraged to read 20 minutes a day to prevent a decline in reading skills and academic achievement throughout the summer months. Participants are eligible to win prizes and opportunities from the Washington Nationals, Washington Football Team and D.C. United.

“With the Summer Reading Challenge, the return of camps and the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, we’re offering a summer filled with opportunity for our young people,” Bowser said.

Bowser announced her plan to invest more than $420 million over the next six years toward the addition of 4,000 spaces to the employment program, the development of summer enrichment programs and the improvement of parks, recreational facilities and public libraries.

The summer jobs program includes 13,000 employees and more than 500 employers. During the summer of 2020, more than 9,000 D.C. residents worked virtually because of the pandemic. Barry founded program four decades ago as a means of providing D.C. youths with opportunities to earn money and gain transferable work experience.

“My connections still benefit me today as a college senior,” says former participant Cheyenne Smallwood. “All young D.C. residents should have access to these opportunities. It’s exciting to hear that the mayor wants to expand the program so that over 4,000 more youth can have access to the same leadership and skill development opportunities that I have had.”

With the reopening of the district and the beginning of an activity-filled summer for residents, Bowser expressed her focus on ensuring that all residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated as well as taking precautions to stay safe during the heatwave.

Washington’s Heat Emergency Plan activates a network of cooling centers when the temperature or heat index reach 95 degrees or higher. D.C. urges residents to stay fully hydrated and remain indoors when heat and humidity become intolerable to prevent heat exhaustion or stroke.

Lindday Calvin is a reporter for the Howard University News Service.