I decided to work with the Greene County Youth Development Council(YDC) for my community outreach. I had previously worked with YDC when they first began in the summer of 2014 as an intern to the board/camp leader. Originally, we were simply a summer camp dedicated to providing a fun, safe environment to lower-class children in the community. While most kids enjoy a summer break filled with trips, sports, going to the pool, and other activities, these carefully selected students indicated they had no plans other than hanging out at home. YDC was able to provide food, supervision, and other services that parents may not have otherwise been able to afford. Through social, personal, and academic aspects, we attempted to give these kids power.
The students were racially diverse and were going into grades third through fifth. Due to all of our camp leaders being white, we brought in my friend Dashon, who is black, lower-class, and was raised by a single mother. He was able to describe his journey to becoming a division one football player at Richmond and the struggles he faced. His ability to relate to each child on different levels was irreplaceable and allowed each student to see potential within themselves. Next, the students met with their local police officers, who recognized several of the kids. In a relaxed environment, both the students and officers were able to ask each other questions in order to understand one another better, which helped gain important trust.
Instead of forcing schoolwork and reading down their throats, we attempted to teach them games like chess and challenge their minds. Most of the students admitted they were sent to the principles office, most more than once, which(this class has taught me) takes away from their education. With numerous volunteers, we possessed the ability to work one-on-one with those struggling and provided positive feedback, which they rarely received.
As the council developed, we were able to receive funds for each student, in order to assist them in partaking in an activity. Most received equipment for sports, such as cleats, or parts necessary to build soap-box cars. Most importantly, the kids were able to connect with members of their community who could provide them with transportation and someone they could trust. The day I attended this semester, the students created care packages for needy children with toys and clothes donated to the school. Each student was excited to put the coolest toys into the packages, never asking if they could have one. The reason this was so important, was that most of the students involved would be receiving a package for Christmas.
By providing social capital to the children, we are attempting to give them hope for a positive future. The YDC has already fundraised enough to grow from third-fifth grade, to third-eighth grade. Every student has the ability to break away from their class norms, YDC just attempts to provide them with the resources and power to do so.