Filed Under:  Economy, Mayor's Column, Recreation

Summer opportunities for New Orleans youth

28th April 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans

Creating meaningful summer opportunities for all of our kids is a top priority for our administration. Quite simply, our best tool to improve our economy and reduce crime is investing in activities for our youth. That’s why, with 74 percent public support, we created the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC). And that’s why we doubled funding for NORDC in 2011 and have completely revamped the summer jobs program. We now have opportunities for youth ages four to 21 with a new focus on teens. We must ensure that our youth will have world-class recreation, work, and educational opportunities that are worthy of their great promise – both now and for all future generations.

The revamped JOB1 Summer NOLA Experience aims to provide quality summer opportunities to 3,000 teenage youth (ages 14-21) to cultivate a career-ready workforce by providing meaningful skill-building support, career exploration and access to entry level jobs in high-demand industries. We increased funding from previous summer jobs programs from $1 million in 2010 serving 1,000 youth to $2.7 million in 2011. No longer will there be a lottery or waiting list for our teens proactively looking to work. All programs range from six to seven weeks. These programs are intended to have long-lasting and long-term impact on each participant. Youth participants will gain experience that helps them refine and advance their career goals while also earning a paycheck.

Late last year, I announced that the city entered into an agreement with the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter to fund a year-round swimming lesson and lifeguard training program, under the direction of NORDC, to include swimming lessons and lifeguard training for NORDC’s aquatics staff, in collaboration with the University of New Orleans, Tulane University Reilly Center, Lake Pontchartrain Lake Basin Foundation, and Ashley Marie Kelly Foundation. The city will open 12 pools this summer on June 6, 2011, up from eight pools last year. Approximately 6,600 kids and young adults will be served by swimming lessons and programming in 2011, compared to approximately 500 in 2010. New pool openings will include A.L. Davis in Central City, Sam Bonart in the Lower 9th Ward, Joe Brown Indoor Pool in New Orleans East, and Taylor in Hoffman Triangle. Additionally, NORDC will offer 31 kiddie camps (ages 4-12), which will serve at least 4,625 kids across the city through partnerships with schools, non-profits and faith-based organizations. In 2010, 1663 kids were served through kiddie camps at four city locations. There will be 7 teen camps (ages 13-17) which will serve 1000 teens across the city. There were no teen camps last year. In partnership with JOB1, teen camps will offer local teenagers career exploration seminars to allow for exposure to a variety of job fields. Additionally, teens will earn a stipend of $75 per week. This improvement in this programming is important. But it’s only a start.

Last week, we announced $150,000 in new private donations to the NORD Foundation for our recreation efforts across the city from Grant Capital Management, Veolia Water, and Chevron. This is in addition to almost $2 million we raised from a train derailment settlement and Entergy. The donations by these companies will be leveraged to provide new opportunities for kids across our city and represent a solid investment for our future. In addition to giving money, companies of all shapes and sizes have a new avenue to give back by providing job slots for teens this summer.

Sign up for teen camps and jobs are underway Monday through Thursday from 5-8pm and Saturdays from 10am-3pm at two locations: 3400 Tulane Avenue and 3520 General De Gaulle, Suite 1030. Partnerships between NORDC teen camps and JOB1 allow there to be a streamlined registration process for youth ages 13-21. Kiddie camp registration began this month on April 16 and 30 from 9am-3pm at five locations: NORD Main Office, Behrman Center, Cut-Off Center, St. Bernard Center, and Treme Center.

We have the leadership, vital new programming, and public investment in place to make a real impact in every neighborhood in our city. But private investment, job slots, and volunteer coaches are all still needed. Please contact NORDC at 504-658-3000 to sign up to help.

This story originally published in the April 18, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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