Local Organization Demonstrates How to Respond to Our Public Education Crisis

Aug 16, 2011, 19:48 ET from Sharefest Community Development

TORRANCE, Calif., Aug. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The excitement and energy can be felt throughout the campus of Cal State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Sharefest's fifth annual Summer Youth Development Academy (YDA) is at the halfway mark of its four-week program. The academy provides a tangible solution to the on-going crisis in the public school system in Los Angeles.

This year again Los Angeles Unified School District, in an effort to close its budget gap, has cancelled summer school for all middle schools – affecting more than 500,000 students. With no positive educational environment during summer months, students miss out on opportunities for continued academic growth and the amount of time students have to engage in unproductive behavior increases drastically. This attests to Sharefest's belief that there is an enormous need for kids in underserved neighborhoods to have a safe, fun environment where they can escape from the influence of gangs and drugs and interact with positive role models to help them become community leaders.

Summer YDA has tackled this problem for five years now by offering a FREE four-week summer academy at CSUDH for two hundred youth from low performing schools. Sharefest's Executive Director, Chad Mayer, comments, "Our interest in community development compelled us to respond to this educational need. And since its inception, Summer YDA has been a summer experience to which students and their parents look forward in hopes of transforming their lives." This comprehensive program is designed to give at-risk, middle-school-aged kids a chance to participate in athletics, theatre arts, art education, team-building, leadership development and more educational activities that lead them away from the destructive lifestyle that is readily available to them on the streets. Topics include character building, decision-making, self-awareness and leadership.

This year marks a special year in the developing legacy and story of Sharefest's YDA. Twenty former students of past Summer YDAs have returned to be junior camp counselors. One of these junior counselors, Jose, explains his return to YDA in this new role, "Summer YDA has helped me become the student and person that I am today. So I am back hoping that I can give to other students what I received." This cycle reflects a goal of YDA of impacting students to make a difference in their communities as future young leaders.

For more info, please visit www.sharefestinc.org or call (310) 626-8106.

Sharefest Community Development is a 501c3 non-profit, founded in 2006, that develops comprehensive programs and services that strengthen communities and meet the needs in the lives of children and families.

SOURCE Sharefest Community Development