Baltimore City youth gain career and life skills


School is back in session for students in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties. While some teenagers splashed in the pool and played basketball, there was a group of students who gained life skills, explored career opportunities and earned high school credits.

Eighty-five area youth successfully completed a seven-week internship program coordinated by the Y in Central Maryland New Horizons II summer initiative. The students were recognized during a closing ceremony at the Druid Hill location on July 29, 2016 in Baltimore City.

“This is exactly what I wanted to do this summer,” said Ciree Ballard, 15. “I learned new skills in television production during my internship and made money too.”

During the ceremony, Ciree introduced a video presentation that she and her peers were featured in. She was instrumental in writing, producing and editing the video that focused on the social injustices that plague many impoverished communities in Baltimore City.

The program was designed to encourage academic success, cultivate personal development and provide career-readiness opportunities for homeless youth between the ages of 14 and 19 from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The students are considered homeless based on the Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act’s definition of the term: “Individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

The internships provided high school students with a combination of training and work experience for eight hours a day, five days a week. The activities included college campus tours, etiquette training, resume writing and portfolio building.

“Our goal is to provide cultural enrichment, life skills, financial literacy and college and career training,” said Derryck Fletcher, vice president of youth development for the Y in Central Maryland. “We’re hoping to break the cycle of poverty among our students.”

Fletcher says the program is intended to bridge the gap between where the students are today and their desires for a brighter future in life. As a youth, Fletcher says he was once homeless, based upon Federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act guidelines.

During the ceremony, eleventh grader Asia Yoon shared her personal testimony about her internship experience. “I enjoyed the program,” said Yoon who worked in a daycare center and helped 20 first and second graders increase their reading and comprehension skills and develop an

affinity for arts and crafts. Yoon also completed an online health education course for which she gained credit toward high school graduation.

“Over the course of the internship, I learned how to take constructive criticism that will help me in the long run, versus everyday criticism from others who may not have my best interest at heart,” she said. After graduation, Yoon plans to attend Johns Hopkins University and pursue a career as a neurosurgeon.

“We are poised to help our students create an action plan so that their dreams can become a reality,” said Fletcher. “The wonderful thing about our students is that they are very resilient.”