For seven weeks during July and August, YouthBuild Long Island hosted fifteen students from the Bellport area for a special summer initiative, held at the Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area. These students, aged 17-24, participated in fun, engaging and enriching activities, including exposure to opportunities that they would not have ordinarily had the opportunity experience.
Throughout the week, the days differed as the students learned about different ways they can set themselves up for success, both professionally and personally. Their schedule included Career Readiness and Leadership Development workshops, Career Exploration tours, and internships with local business partners.
Through Career Readiness instruction, students learned about significant factors that can influence their future in the workforce, including social media (the pros and dangers), communications, interview skills, healthy conflict and how to deal with it in the workplace and job search strategies.
Leadership Development afforded students the opportunity to speak on issues affecting their lives that often don’t have an appropriate forum. Discussions range from communication (passive, assertive and aggressive), violence in the community, life circumstances that often get in the way of our success, and of course, personal development.
Each Wednesday, students traveled off-site to businesses to learn about the many different career paths available to them. These excursions included Covanta, which works with companies to find sustainable solutions to their waste management challenges, Hampton Inn, where the students learned about the intricacies of running a hotel, B/E Aerospace, Job Corps in Edison, New Jersey, Riverhead Building Supply, and a special behind-the-scenes tour of Fox News in Manhattan.
Students also took part in a one-day solar panel training from GRID Alternatives and applied these newly-learned skills during a two-day work project in Riverhead where students worked alongside the YouthBuild and GRID’s construction staff installing solar panels on a home.
Throughout the summer, students had the opportunity to hear from a variety of guest speakers including:
Steve Weinstein, Access Careers Institute spoke to the students about the various careers in the medical and healthcare industry and current market trends.
Kyle Caravousanos. Bethpage Federal Credit Union spoke to students about saving and checking accounts, student loans, credit score, and managing finances in a responsible manner.
Although seven weeks might not seem very long, students discovered that they were capable of success and took steps to better their lives.
Dashawn of Bellport made a positive impression on his employer at Carmen’s Canoe and Kayak and was offered a permanent position.
Osei learned about higher education opportunities and will be attending the University of Buffalo in the fall. He said “I liked the work tours, that he appreciated the behind-the- scenes operations of big businesses, the experience, for him was very insightful. It made me want to go back to school and obtain my degree.”
When asked about what they enjoyed about the program, Terrance from Center Moriches
said, “I liked everything, the trips, learning how to do the solar paneling, the entire experience. Especially how to communicate better because I like to hold things in and YouthBuild taught me how to express myself in a healthy, assertive way. In fact, I learned a lot of little things that can help me with my success.”
Kimberly from Stonybrook, said, “It was good, I enjoyed everything; the trips, what I learned…that there is a lot of opportunities for young people. Prior to this, I felt like those of us who may feel hopeless because of where we come from, had very little opportunity to succeed. This experience showed me that opportunities are there for those of us that struggle with our situations.”
This summer program opened many doors for these young people – a few of whom will be joining YouthBuild for the full program this fall. We look forward to seeing them apply what they learned this summer into their life as they continue their positive progress!