City plans summer activities to keep kids safe, healthy, and busy

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In early May, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther joined community partners to announce several programs and resources for central Ohio youth to keep them safe, healthy, active and engaged during the summer. From violence prevention to sports, employment and skills training, all programs are designed to provide constructive outlets for safe and healthy activities while supporting children and families as they plan for the end of the school year.

“We are excited to be making these unprecedented investments in our city’s youth to help them gain back some of what they have lost throughout this challenging year,” said Ginther.

As part of several ongoing initiatives to curb violent crime in Columbus – particularly incidents involving youth as victims and assailants – the city is committed to equipping at-risk youth with the skills and strategies needed to de-escalate violent situations and lay the foundation for a successful future, such as through the Applications for Purpose, Pride and Success (APPS) program, which is administered by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department (CRPD).

Ginther also discussed the following:

• Summer Camps: Children may register to attend CRPD day camps featuring a variety of subjects and interests, including arts, fitness, sports, science/STEM, outdoor exploration and adaptive recreation. Local community centers will also host other activities and programs for children of all ages. The summer session runs June 1 through August 20.

• Late Night Basketball: In partnership with the Columbus Divisions of Police and Fire, CRPD will offer this free program for children and young adults ages 12 through 30 at participating community centers June 7 through July 30.

• Go, Lunch!: This CRPD-led program provides free, nutritionally balanced meals to anyone between the ages of 1 and 18. Meals are also available for those between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been determined by a state or local public educational agency to be mentally or physically disabled and involved in an independent education program. Dates and times vary.

• CRPD is waiving admission fees for entry to city pools. Due to COVID-19-related capacity limits, residents will be required to register in advance to ensure a spot.

• CRPD is hiring more than 200 seasonal staff members.

• Earth Service Corps: The city’s Department of Public Service and the YMCA of Central Ohio are teaming up to employ 400 16 to 24 year olds to clean up litter in Columbus neighborhoods. Participants will receive soft skills training and a daily lunch.

• Peer Education Program expansion: A collaboration between CelebrateOne and Planned Parenthood’s Ohio Center for Sex Education, this evidence-based prevention curriculum will expand to enroll 50 participants between the ages of 14 and 18 to become Peer Educators and disseminate sexual health information to help prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce sexually transmitted infections and address unique health issues and disparities. Peer Educators are paid stipends for their service.

• Summer Youth Workforce and Career Development Program: Facilitated by the Ohio Center for Sex Education and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, CelebrateOne will recruit an additional 50 youth ages 14 to 19 to enroll in an eight-week paid summer fellowship in which participants learn life and work skills alongside experienced health care professionals and become positive health messengers in their neighborhoods and communities.

The Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio is also helping to connect young people with jobs – and employers who are interested in hiring young people this summer.

“The pandemic has been a challenge for our youth to navigate a disrupted education and workforce system,” said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, CEO of the Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio. “Summer youth employment experiences can lead to positive long-term outcomes to get back on track academically, explore careers and gain new skills through internships, full-time and part-time employment.”

Additional information about summer programming is available at columbus.gov/schoolsout.

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