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Department of Youth Services giving at-risk children hope

The Mayflower community has been labeled as one of the gang-infested neighborhoods. As such, those in that community are well acquainted with the ongoing gun violence. The Department of Youth Services is hoping to help the children escape that life-style and in so doing avoid becoming another tragedy. In this regard, they have opened the Mayflower Youth Center, where children can get help with homework and engage in positive activities. Aida Escobar, Communications Officer at the Department of Youth Services spoke about the drop in center.

Aida Escobar – Communications Officer, Department of Youth Services:  “Different things that you need youth need help with. A big thing as you can see behind me there are a lot of computers so there is free internet acess. The youth also have access to free printing, homework help I know a lot of the kids at school have big projects that they need to do for their SBAs and that kind of thing and we can assist with that. We started a new program in January and we partnered with Mr.Joseph Stamp and the program is called Arts in Youth Development Program. So what’s happening is that we are combining art with other lessons that the children are learning here. So the youth that come over here they come Monday Wednesday and Friday for this program specifically, it starts from 4pm and it goes throughout the evening. Monday’s there’s usually a movie where we show them different movies that we feel is going to give them a lesson for them to bring back to their community. Then Wednesday is kind of an art day and drama day so they get put into groups and then they have to act out different things and they use that to kind of talk about things that are probably bothering them.”

Joseph Stamp Romero, the facilitator of the Arts and Social Development Programme spoke about working with the children.

Joseph Stamp Romero – Facilitator: “I think one of the key things about the Arts in Social Development Program is that you look at some of the behavior issues they have and you try to use art as the medium to curb their behaviors. Simple things like how they socialize and interact with each other and trying to make them do that in a positive manner so looking at how that can be done in a medium such as the arts is something that we try to use at the center here and so that really helps us to get them used to how they work with each other. One thing I will tell you is that it’s a different view for us working in the community than what you see sometimes on the TV or on Facebook in terms of all the tensions in the communities, we don’t have that. Once we are in the community working with the children we have an easier way of accessing the parents and so we have parents who support the program and we go into the community and work with parents and so it’s definitely a different reality whereas you see something on TV that is depicted as negative so for us we have seen a very positive turnaround with us being here.”
Reporter: What is the long term objective of this program?
Joseph Stamp Romero – Facilitator:
Definitely to see how these kids and interact with their communities in a much more positive way, how they can ultimately become leaders in their communities. They might be young but they are seeing a lot, they are a part of a lot, they’ve been traumatized by a lot.”

The drop in center is open from Monday to Friday at 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.