Summer Program Hopes To Keep Kids Out of Trouble
Last Friday, organizers asked the Alachua County Commission to fund their summer program for kids.
The commission agreed to give close to $120,000 to the summer program.
16-year-old Tramus Warren says programs like Heatwave help keep kids out of trouble during the summer.
"You ain't got nothin' to do so you're going to try to find something to do, and it might not be the right thing. So a program like this keeps us off the streets and keeps us occupied," said Warren.
The nearly $120,000 will be used to run a program with sports leagues, motivational speakers, and academic lessons. It will run Monday through Friday from July 7th through August 15th, and is free for the kids.
"This is not them 'Oh well let's have a get together, hang out at someone's house.' said Rhonda Stroman, program organizer. "These are organized social activities, organized academic activities with adults there, with law enforcement in a friendly manner. Not in a hostile manner, not being called to respond to a crime or something, but they're there to help them and also to serve as mentors for the youth."
Stroman says the program will spend about $8.50 per child each day. The cost for an incarcerated juvenile is more than $150 per day.
"I believe personally that it's cheaper for us to educate the children then to incarcerate them, and through these summer programs there is a strong educational component" said Stroman.
And Warren says the program goes beyond just keeping kids out of trouble.
"It teaches us more than just school," said Warren. "It teaches us about how to get a job for example. Some of us...we'll just go to a job wearing the clothes that we wear not knowing that you actually have to be dressed-up to go to your interview or your first day of work."
Organizers hope to run the Heatwave program for many summers to come. They say that they view this inaugural summer as a trial period and hope to come back with a finely-tuned, polished product next summer.
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