Addressing Youth Poverty and Safety

Last week the  Biz Kid$ program kicked off its camp season by completing its first camp of 2011. Now before I go ranting and raving about how awesome it went, I’ll just let the numbers speak for themselves.

Check out this condensed graphic for our latest camp: Biz Kid$ February 2011 Camp Condensed Results

On Monday I had the pleasure to grade the kids’ pre and post tests as well as read their comments about the week. One of the questions that we asked was, “What did you like the most about participating in Biz Kid$ Camp.” As I read the responses, many were similar: “I liked selling hot cocoa”, “The presentation”, “Learning how to start my own business.”

However, there was one response that had a profound effect on me:

“It opened my eyes to how easily money can be made legally.”

At first, I glanced over it and paid it no mind. But over the past couple days it gave me inspiration to write this post.

A few months ago I read that youth (under 18) poverty in Rochester was about 47%. That’s about half of all the youth in Rochester; 1 out of every 2 youth.

In Biz Kid$, we pride ourselves in empowering kids by giving them hope in entrepreneurship while allowing them to make some money for their hard work. We give them resources and tips on how to lead financially stable lives. We also give the youth something productive to do in a safe environment.

As I finish up the last few months of my service term and reflect back on the past year I remember the faces of the youth we’ve served and how they lit up with excitement upon receiving a paycheck or cash from their Hot Chocolate stands. I could not imagine picking up the paper and seeing their picture next to a story where they’d committed a crime or were a victim in some reckless act.

I can’t help but think of how lucky I have been to serve in an organization that keeps youth off the streets while giving them hope for their futures.

-Ashley McAuslen, 2010-2011 RYY Fellow at Biz Kid$

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