ROXBURY, Mass., July 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced her office will award Whittier Street Health Center part of the state's healthcare settlement money in a grant to support the summer hiring of youth. Whittier is one of 100 organizations across the Bay State who were selected for the grant.
The generous support of Healy's office will partly fund youth counselors for Whittier's Summer Youth Enrichment Program, a summer day-camp which began in 2003 to meet the needs of working parents in the community. The majority of Whittier's campers are from housing developments in the Roxbury area, where the opportunity for positive and safe summer activities is slim.
Throughout the six-week summer program at Whittier, children ages 6 to 11 participate in sports and fitness activities, maintain and contribute to Whittier's community garden, participate in cooking classes and nutrition workshops, and receive mentoring about healthy lifestyles.
"Our summer jobs program provides hundreds of young people across the state with an opportunity to challenge themselves, gain new skills and make a difference in their own community," said Healey, who launched the Healthy Summer Youth Jobs Grant Program in 2015, and has funded more than 800 jobs to date.
One of those jobs belongs to Roxbury resident Tryshten Suazo, who has been employed as a youth leader at Whittier Street Health Center's Summer Enrichment Program since 2015. Suazo began the program as a day-camper himself and credits the program for having a profound impact on him.
"It impacted me in the way it increased my ability to socialize," said Suazo, who appreciates the opportunity to work at the summer program and interact with the community. For young people like Suazo, the options for summer work in his urban Boston neighborhood are minimal and primarily in customer service or retail. "Not only are you making money and occupying yourself, you're focusing on something that you're interested in. I just love coming to hang out. I'm learning something new every day," he said.
"It really does benefit the community," added Suazo. "Parents need to find a good place to bring their children, not only to have fun and learn stuff from other people but also expose them to new things they can bring back to their neighborhoods."
For low-income youth without a summer day program, a Johns Hopkins Learning Association Report found a phenomenon known as the "summer slide," which manifested in lower rates of high school graduation, seasonal weight gain three times as fast and deficits in valuable social-emotional learning skills such as conflict resolution, cooperation and communication abilities.
The mission of Whittier Street Health Center is to provide high-quality, reliable and accessible primary health care and support services for diverse populations to promote wellness and eliminate health and social disparities. The health center also provides community-based cancer care in partnership with Dana Farber Cancer Institute; general dentistry; HIV services; laboratory; obstetrics and gynecology; pediatrics/adolescent health; LGBTQ clinic; eye care; and mental health counseling. Whittier also runs over 40 social service initiatives from a food pantry to a wellness center/gym, addressing everything from substance abuse, violence, trauma, food insecurity and total person holistic wellbeing. Whittier Street Health Center is a 501c3 charitable organization.
Jesse Migneault Phone: 617.989.3283
Roxbury resident Tryshten Suazo is employed as a youth leader at Whittier Street Health Center's Summer Enrichment Program
For young people like Suazo, the options for summer work in his urban Boston neighborhood are minimal and primarily in customer service or retail. 'Not only are you making money and occupying yourself, you're focusing on something that you're interested in,' said Suazo. 'I just love coming to hang out. I'm learning something new every day.'
SOURCE Whittier Street Health Center