DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)– For some students, summer is all about fun and games, but for others, this isn’t just a break. It’s a time to build skills for the future. “I’ve been wanting to work here my whole life and help with the kids and stuff, and I finally get to do that, said 16 year old Keeamen Cook. These teenagers are working at the Boys and Girls Club of Decatur. “Teach them how to be young adults, for the real world,” said Charlotte Cook, Teen Reach Coordinator for Boys and Girls Club of Decatur.
Students aged 16 to 18 years old do secretarial work, yard work, and help with activities. They planned to help the teenagers get placed in other areas like restaurants or possibly the health department. Due to COVID-19, they decided to keep the students working inside their building. “Right now for the few that I have, I think this is the safest place for them,” said Charlotte Cook. Students are paid using a federal grant through Workforce Investment Solutions. There are benefits to the program.
“We actually have a youth case manager that not only are they working on a job here at the Boys and Girls Club, but we’ve got someone that can directly manage them in terms of their paycheck, their transportation, or anything that might come up that might make having a job difficult,” said Rocki Wilkerson of Workforce Investment Solutions. “They do have to do a budget on how they’re going to spend their money, so they can have their own funds and if they work. That will kind of keep them out of trouble,” said Charlotte Cook. Students say what you’re gaining is much bigger than a pay check. “I like the money, but the experience is better to me because this is something that I always wanted to do” said Keeamen Cook. Students also learned how to safely work during the pandemic. They’re hoping to continue the program into the fall so students can be even more prepared for the workforce.