In The News
Summer Job:Urban League Helps Local Teens
Just about everyone remembers that first summer job. Here in the Midlands some local teens are getting their first taste of the rat race thanks to the Columbia Urban League.
The program is keeping kids off the streets and teaching life lessons in a place some didn't think they'd wind up.
Dion Tyler doesn't have your typical summer job. The Columbia teen was buried in his work Monday morning, folding uniforms at the Columbia Fire Department. Tyler is interning at the department this summer.
"Everybody should try to get a head start on life," says Tyler.
The 15-year-old's grandmother got him involved in a Columbia Urban League Program called the Youth Leadership Development Institute.
Five days a week, Tyler and several other teens from varying backgrounds, including some in foster care, are getting valuable work experience..
"It teaches you that there's more important things that just sitting around and that I should take things seriously," says Tyler.
James McLawhorn of the Columbia Urban League says the work program breeds confidence and gives young people a sense of purpose.
"It instills in them the importance of work and how work can be used as a building block to become successful," says McLawhorn.
The work at the fire department includes taking inventory, filing paperwork and even some of the more serious stuff. Students have already gone through training exercises, learning CPR and rescue tactics.
"They're eager to learn, they're catching on really quick," says Deputy Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins of the Columbia Fire Department. "We're just doing our best to help get them ready for the workforce. "
Dion Tyler doesn't think his role in the workforce will play out at the Columbia Fire Department. The teen hopes to be a lawyer. Still, the Columbia High student says the lessons people have taught him will last a lifetime.
"I could actually call them my family," says Tyler. "They are very good to me."
Youth Leadership Development Institute was established eight years
ago. The program helped roughly 200 young people in the Midlands last