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Summer programs keep Sumter teens engaged while instilling life skills with paycheck

BY SHELBIE GOULDING
shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 8/21/19

It was another successful summer for both the county and city's summer youth programs, where they taught teens to work within the community and learn valuable work and management skills along the way.

Both the City of Sumter and Sumter County …

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Summer programs keep Sumter teens engaged while instilling life skills with paycheck

Posted

It was another successful summer for both the county and city's summer youth programs, where they taught teens to work within the community and learn valuable work and management skills along the way.

Both the City of Sumter and Sumter County government hold summer youth programs each summer. Kids apply for the program and get picked to be a participant.

Though the two programs are independent of each other, they had the same goal: to help kids grow into intelligent, hard workers in a fun environment.

The Sumter County Youth Employment and Mentoring Program went from July 8 to Aug. 8, and more than 35 15- to 17-year-olds participated.

Students worked part-time in various departments of county government to gain work experience, better understand a professional work environment and learn about their local government.

"They were placed based on the interest they expressed during the application and essay portion of the process, as well as where we had a vacancy," said Keysa Rogers, human resources director for the county.

The participants were paid and worked Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Fridays they all came together for a mentoring session. The mentoring sessions featured professionals from the community discussing their jobs and how to prepare for life after high school.

Students also heard from representatives from USC Sumter, Central Carolina Technical College and Morris College.

The last session was with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, where students learned about careers in law enforcement and what their jobs entail.

"They got a little bit of exposure to what exactly the county does, and we did some exercises dealing with them being aware of who their elected officials are and what those positions are responsible for within the county," Rogers said.

The City of Sumter's Youth Corps program was five days a week for seven weeks and partnered with the Sumter Police Department, and more than 40 14- and 15-year-olds participated.

Lefford Fate, support services director with the city, helped mentor the students while the police department guided the young workers.

"They actually worked with the police department and community development. That was the program," Fate said. "They went out to the parks and did some cleaning around there. We actually did the training at the fire department, but they were all over the community raking, cleaning and picking up litter."

While the police department worked with the kids throughout the week, Fate trained the students on Mondays for two- and-a-half hours.

"We went over 17 principles on personal achievements that would help them to become successful," Fate said. "We realized one of the biggest issues with young people is the emotional intelligence, so we work really hard with them on not only making money and working well on teams but to be able to think and go the extra mile, have a pleasing personality, be self-disciplined and all that kind of stuff. We want their mental well-being right."

Lead Cpl. Peter Schmid, a school resource officer with the police department, was one of the five supervisors who guided the students. After a week of hard work, the supervisors would take the participants to places like Wonder Works, Myrtle Waves, McEntire Joint National Guard Base and more.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the kids," Schmid said. "Every Friday, we took them on fun, educational trips."