ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today launched impactful summer youth programming and announced several empowering programs for young people. These programs, which include the County’s Summer Youth Program and the Esports initiative with Howard Community College, will provide positive outlets for young people to engage with each other and in the community. Pictures from the event can be found here,
We know that the last few years have been especially hard on our young people, who were unable to engage with each other in community spaces during their most formative years. Young people from every corner of our county have expressed need for more programs, activities, and places to be in community with each other. Through these experiences, our young people will have the chance to learn key skills and positively recreate with their peers and our community. We will continue to work with all our partners and our young people to ensure that Howard County remains a safe, welcoming, and vibrant place for all as we build the very best future, together.
The Summer Youth Program, led by the Howard County Office of Workforce Development, paid program focuses on teaching youth valuable job readiness skills and career exploration with local business partners. This empowering program was underutilized with only nine participants in 2017, and it has grown exponentially to over 150 participants in 2022. Ball announced today that the program will grow to over 175 students this year.
“If you are a young person, who is out of school, unemployed, or feels like you are out of options, we are the place for you!” said Jermira Sarratt, Youth Program Coordinator, Howard County Office of Workforce Development. “Your next Job starts with us. We are excited this will be our largest Summer Youth Program. We are committed to providing youth opportunities and assisting the workforce of tomorrow develop their talent today."
Howard County Recreation and Parks will be offering drop-in gym schedules in Laurel, Ellicott City, Glenwood, and the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center. In addition, the Department is currently hiring young adults 16-years-old or older. More information regarding available jobs and to apply, please visit their website here.
"Howard County Recreation and Parks is a one-stop shop for our teenagers. From henna painting to K-Pop or hip-hop dance classes, or from archery and kayaking to our many sports programs for teens, the sky is the limit. Our department offers many opportunities for teens to learn new skills, make new friends, and have fun while doing so," said Ann Joseph, Aquatics Coordinator at Roger Carter Community Center. "We are hiring, too! If you are 16 or older, you can join our great team as a lifeguard, scorekeeper, boat rental attendant, coach, camp counselor or work at one of our many parks."
Last week, Ball announced impactful Youth Engagement Programming (YEP!) Grants during a rally at the People Tree in Columbia. These grants promote youth activities and engagement in Howard County through free, accessible, and supportive programming developed by nonprofit and community organizations. One grantee of the YEP! Program is an Esports initiative with Howard Community College’s nationally recognized Esports team.
“The Howard Community College Dragons esports team competes against some of the most formidable colleges and universities in the country and has multiple conference wins and one national championship to our name,” said Mike Smelkinson, Director of Athletics, Howard Community College. “With all the success we’ve had with esports, Howard Community College is excited to partner with County Executive Ball and offer new opportunities for Howard County middle school and high school students to learn about gaming as an option to support their college education or their future career.”
The Howard County Police Department announced the continuation and expansion of its robust youth engagement and outreach programs. Programs range from summer camps and mentorship opportunities to programs developed to teach young adults advanced driver safety skills.
“For many years, the Howard County Police Department has had robust youth engagement and outreach programs, including free camps, athletics, mentoring, leadership and diversion programs,” said Captain Phil Mullinix of the HCPD Community Services Bureau. “We will continue to work with young people in our county to focus on intervention, prevention and growth.”
Last year, Ball invested $2 million to support the Howard County Strategies To Reach an Inclusive Vision and Equitable Solutions, or HoCo STRIVES, initiative. It is an umbrella for the many initiatives in place to address the achievement gap, and now to address learning loss brought on by the pandemic. This vital initiative includes afterschool and summer programming, mental health services, and free meals.
“Community voice is critical in all that we do here at DCRS and that includes centering youth voice in any work that impacts their lives,” says Jackie Scott, Director, DCRS. With that understanding, we’ve created a model that empowers young people to envision and co-create community alongside us where they can thrive. As a result, through our Office of the Local Children’s Board we have granted over $2,000,000 to community organizations for evidence-based afterschool and summer programming, community outreach, food access, mental health services, and workforce development to assist over 23,200 children, youth and families.”
More information on the YEP! Program and available youth programs throughout the county can be found here.