The summer is slowly coming to an end. Schools will soon be opening their doors to students full of stories. Stories of the summer they had, experiences, and relationships with their friends. For the young leaders of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), they have much to talk about!
Throughout the summer (through the generous contribution of many of you), the YEP’s have been employed as paid summer interns. Each YEP chose the project they wished to invest in, determining the skills they would learn, and how they would give back to their community.
Bradley, a YEP who invested his time working in the rehab program, wanted to expand his knowledge base. Bradley explained, “I’m familiar with this kind of work from when my family and I moved house. I hope to gain more knowledge on the topic, and I’m excited to learn how to build a house from the bones. Like we are doing at the 34 Isabella Rehab". The rehab program takes the worst house on the block and breathes new life into it. YEP’s like Bradley get to learn a wide range of construction skills, with worksite experience. And the #IsabellaRehab is the worst house we have ever rehabbed, so there was (and still is) a lot of work to do! As Bradley puts it, the internships are better than the alternative, “It’s something to do with my summer. Something fun, something interactive, something exciting.”
Paris, a YEP and sophomore at Muskegon High School, spent her summer as an intern with McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm. McGrows is Muskegon's largest urban farm, based in the core-city. The farm focuses on providing locally grown, fresh produce to our core-city neighbors. The farm also educates neighbors on the importance of fresh food and a healthy diet. The summer is the busiest time of the year on the farm, so interns like Paris were hard at work weeding, pruning, harvesting, washing and packing fresh produce. All the produce from the farm is sold at Muskegon Farmers Market, added to the weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, or prescribed to members of the Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health (MPFH) program. Paris was excited to get started despite the heat. “I like planting and spending time with my co-workers. I’m excited to learn all the names of the plants and to learn how to grow and care for them."
Many of the YEP’s have approached these opportunities knowing the benefits internships will have for them. Jayjuan, a young artist who invested his time working in the Lawn Care Program told us, “What I hope to gain, besides money, is to build up my mental toolbox with new skills!" The Lawn Care Crew have been working throughout the core city neighborhoods, cleaning up empty lots, edging sidewalks, and mowing lawns to beautify the core-city neighborhoods.
The last program the YEP’s could invest in was CATCH Camp, a free summer camp, based at McLaughlin Community Park. YEP’s like Kaylie mentored neighborhood kids and had a fun-packed summer too! “I love CATCH camp because it's a different day every day, and the children are hilarious!" For Kaylie, CATCH Camp was an opportunity to invest back into Muskegon's children. “I like working with kids. Seeing them every day puts a smile on my face.”. CATCH Camp provides a free, fun, and educational summer experience to Muskegon's kids. This also helps in relieving some of the financial burdens, of extra childcare for families through the summer. Every week CATCH camp went on educational trips to museums, parks, and attractions, making sure the kids had something to talk about when they got back to school.
YEP aims to “empower youth to become leaders now, while forever changing their futures, as they become pillars of society”. The internships help YEP’s build confidence in their abilities. Through the internships, YEP's learn about their strengths, and how to build on them. The YEP's are taking steps to be leaders in core-city Muskegon, today!
Come and celebrate all the accomplishments the YEP’s have achieved this summer at their End of Summer Celebration, August 23rd 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. at Muskegon Community College’s Downtown Sturrus Technology Center.