Ward 4’s Youth Gear Up for DOES Summer Youth Program

Registration for the 2008 Passport-to-Work Summer Youth Program (SYP) began last month for DC’s youth. Facilitated by the Department of Employment Services (DOES), the SYP helps youth in DC get a head start on making their transition into the work force. Teens are paid to participate in a 10-week workforce training and development program that provides them with a real account of a day’s work in a number of fields.

At the same time, the SYP is a deterrent from some of the temptations that the summer can bring for DC’s youth. From violence to developing unhealthy habits, the DOES and Mayor Fenty understand what the summer can confront teenagers with that do not have structured plans. Since it’s inception in 2005, the SYP has worked with high schools, recreation centers and retention programs to recruit DC teens that can benefit most from the program. Each summer the DOES places 14,000 of DC’s youth between the ages of 14 and 21 in training programs that allows them to learn through hands-on activities, shadowing professionals, and through integrated curriculum developed especially for the training program.

Several Ward 4 teenagers registered for the Passport-to-Work SYP by way of the Emory Recreation Center on Georgia Avenue in March. 16-year-old Kiara Johnson registered to work this summer and is hoping to be assigned to a program that was just as insightful as her previous job. Last summer, Johnson trained and worked as a hospitality intern where she learned the ropes of hotel chain and restaurant management. “Now when I’m in a restaurant, I understand that there’s more to it and I don’t like to see people get mad at waiters.”

15-year-old Alvin Bailey says he looks forward to working with children again. Last summer he worked as an intern with McFarland and assisted the program manager with a recreation program for children. “I talked to them about how to dress and speak so they could have better oral manners, and I helped them stay active and made sure they didn’t go in the street when they were playing.

Bailey understands the value of the experience he received from his internship. “When I get older and go to college I will remember what I learned there to get a good job,” said Bailey.

17-year-old Ashley Brown also spent last summer mentoring children when she interned for DC Parks & Recreation services. “I loved working last summer, what’s better than getting paid while learning and having fun?” said Brown.

17-year-old Alindra Blake also interned with DC Parks & Recreation services last summer. “What I liked most was meeting other people my age from other wards. It was cool to talk to them and find out what other people go through in other neighborhoods,” said Blake.

Eric Gray, who is now 14 but didn’t make the minimum age requirement last year, says he is eager to get started working this summer. “I hope I get to work with kids. You can still talk to them and they listen to you. If you’re being a good role model they’ll want to be like you,” said Gray.

DC youth registered to work in the SYP this summer are destined for 10-weeks of unlimited exposure, learning and fun.