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Oh To Be A Kid Again!

2011 January 18

By Ameshia Cross

Growing up young, black, and impoverished on Chicago’s Southside was no picnic. Blurs of hopelessness and despair surrounded me. I enrolled in after- school youth programs to help me get away from the painful images I saw daily. As a child, I wanted to work for NASA. After serving on a green committee in high school, I decided to pursue environmental policy education. But to my surprise, the programs in my community didn’t offer programs about environmental policy.

I had to find other avenues to pursue my interest but today’s kids can take find environmental programs in our community. I currently intern for EPA and had an opportunity to take a trip “back in time” and visit a youth center. The Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) has everything I wished for as a kid and more. It meets the needs of the inner city kids by providing a safe haven in the midst of a socioeconomic storm. At the same time, GCYC allows students to explore green careers, education, and hands-on activities.

The GCYC’s Green Teens Program is a summer apprenticeship program for students to explore green jobs and receive hands-on experience in this growing field. The job skills training provided by the Green Teens Program makes it possible for students to develop college level skills while still in high school. I wish they had a program like this when I was in high school.

Youth participants are also free to explore the Environmental Education Garden housed on the GCYC’s premises. The garden is designed to mirror a green campus featuring an open chef series where chefs from across the city can come and create dishes using the ingredients grown by the students. The garden also creates a rain forest atmosphere that enables students to understand how a rain forest works without having to travel.

Though the GCYC is filled with fun and exciting environmental education activities the emphasis according to Marji Hess, the garden manager, is sustainability. “Developing our youth and using the environments that they find themselves in to promote community sustainability is the ultimate goal.”

The GCYC Green Teens’ and Environmental Education Garden brought a smile to my face. Oh to be 13 again and be a part of this program!

About the author:  Ameshia Cross joined the EPA in December as a STEP intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Chicago. She has worked for numerous community organizations, holds seats on youth education boards, and is active in politics. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on environmental policy and legislation.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Jackenson Durand permalink
    January 18, 2011

    “When Green Comes to an Island, It forget to leave some of sweet flower aroma behing where it get it, because pollution may not be so strong anymore face of 25 years old deforestation recommanded on ecosystem justice”.

  2. Jorge Gerônimo Hipólito permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Aquí em Brasil, durante mucho tiempo, doy conferencias sobre educación ambiental en las escuelas. Em muchas escuelas los profesores las dificultades percibidas por la agresividad de los estudiantes involucrados em el consumo de estupefacientes. A través de mi punto de vista y las condiciones ambientales de la policía militar sugirió que la escuela la aplicación de los viveros, estos pueden ser árboles nativos y frutales.Desafortunadamente, no fue posible. Creo que a veces carecen de motivación para los directores de escuela, pero justificable, tal vez, dada la falta de recursos por parte delos gobiernos, municipal, estatal y federal.
    AH, QUE UN NIÑO DE NUEVO! ¿Quién no? El niño es feliz, porque el entorno es feliz.¡Enhorabuena!

  3. iPhone Repair permalink
    January 21, 2011

    I admire the valuable information you offer in your message. This message are obviously from your personal experience. It’s a authentic and fantastic for anyone. I will remain awhile for your message. Really I am impressed with your message content. Keep up the great work. I will bookmark your blog and have my friends check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else . I respect you from the core of the heart. Thanks for sharing this information.

  4. dropshipping permalink
    January 21, 2011

    I think GCYC offers a great possibility to the youth. As stated in the past there where no educations focussed on Green, environmental studies so this is a great new initiative. I certainly will bookmark this post as it offers some quite unique info.

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