People Reaching Out, a non-profit organization that offers after school, summer time, and other community programs to young people so they can work towards building healthy futures, just ended one of their six week summer youth enrichment programs on July 30th. The Summer LAB Program started on June 23rd, meeting every Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 12pm to 5pm at the Cosumnes River College campus. It offers free summer programing to middle and high school youth in economically challenged communities who want to learn and grow in a college environment.
“It helps (youth) have opportunities that are going to prevent them from getting into drugs or negative activities,” says Jennifer Burton, a Youth Engagement Coordinator from the Summer LAB Program.
People Reaching Out was created in the summer of 1980 when the youth drug and alcohol use in Fair Oaks Park caught the attention of surrounding residents. During a community town hall meeting, nine different task forces were formed to start exploring the suggestions that were given to combat the problem. One task force focused on preventions to youth drug problems and continued to meet every week for a year. Eventually, they became the organization known as today as People Reaching Out.
“(Summer LAB Program) is designed to give youth an opportunity to have a positive place to go for the summer,” says Burton. “It’s enrichment, it’s not just a summer school program.” The participants who are 7th through 12th graders learn through art, dance, music, fitness, and technology. This program also includes a class called College and Careers, which guide the high school participants through their future schooling choices.
“Here, I go to College and Careers and then we do arts and crafts or we do recreation games,” says Susan Zhang, a Summer LAB participant. “We get to experience a bunch of different fields and of our interests.”
Through these free of charge programs, young people can increase academic performance, advocate for community change, and engage in civil interests through their Mentoring Program, Student Reaching Out Program, and Civic Engagement Program. This organization operates in five school districts, 24 schools, and three underserved communities. Each week, more than 800 young people from different backgrounds such as Latino/Hispanic, White, Black/African, Asian, Multi Ethnic, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander benefit from these programs.
Anyone wanting to learn more about People Reaching Out can visit them on the web at https://www.peoplereachingout.org/index.php