NJCDC Youth Corps Programs Begin

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

gfyc_cleanup_1778_424x273The past two summers, NJCDC sponsored the Great Falls Youth Corps program for area teens to serve as ambassadors to the new Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park. This summer, NJCDC has introduced a new element to its menu of youth development programming. With support from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Urban Youth Corps (UYC) will employ 8 Paterson teens in an effort to beautify key areas in the historic district.

The Urban Youth Corps program is designed to protect, enhance and beautify areas surrounding “gateways” into the city of Paterson. Eight local teens have committed to 6 weeks of beautifying four distinct areas in Paterson’s historic neighborhood, including a future community park, walking trails, and the pathways along Paterson’s famous “raceways” that once ferried water from the Great Falls to Paterson’s once-vibrant mill buildings.

Urban Youth Corps Cleaning UpAt the same time, the Great Falls Youth Corps will engage 15 area youth (13-19) in experiential learning opportunities tied to the area’s unique natural, social and industrial history. With financial support from the Community Foundation of New Jersey and State Farm Insurance Company and ongoing support from the National Park Service (NPS), the GFYC’s goal is to improve the appearance of the Great Falls National Historical Park, facilitate public access and outreach, foster knowledge of the NPS and its core mission, and enhance future enjoyment for existing residents and future visitors.

These distinct efforts will serve two major purposes. First, they provide employment and community engagement for youth in Paterson, and secondly, beautify different locations in Paterson to make the areas in and around the Historic District clean for all to enjoy.

For many teens, a paid summer job is hard to come by. But for many of our UYC and GFYC members, the idea of making a difference in their community is the foremost reason behind why they decided to enlist in the program. International High School student Daneal Jackson, 17, admits that if he were not a member of the GFYC, he would probably be without employment this summer. Instead he says, “This is a great opportunity. I get to meet different types of people while I help my community.” Urban Youth Corps member Christopher Taylor, International High School student and resident of the 5th Ward proclaims, “At least when people walk by, they will see what we did to make this area better.”

NJCDC’s CEO Bob Guarasci is excited about this dual initiative and looks forward to seeing the youths’ progress over the summer. “Paterson is fortunate to have engaged and civically active youth. With the help of these energetic and dynamic teens, the Great Falls National Historical Park will clean and ready for visitors all summer!”