January 5, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MECKLENBURG COUNTY PROGRAM FOR HOMELESS KIDS RECOGNIZED ACROSS NORTH CAROLINA
Charlotte, NC - An after school program to help homeless children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg has won the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association's prestigious 2005 Innovative Program Award.
The program called "Young Achievers" was designed and coordinated by James Worsley of the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department (a picture of Worsley with children from the program is attached.) Begun in 2004, it provides recreational and educational experiences for homeless youth during an after-school mentorship program. The program offers recreational and educational activities as an intervention to decrease negative behaviors and attitudes characteristic of homeless children. These children typically exhibit problems such as anger, lack of concentration, poor self-esteem, etc.
Young Achievers includes volunteers from local businesses and corporations who spend time mentoring the students and assisting them with weekly activities. Techniques used include group projects, artwork, guest speakers, creative writing, and field trips to theatrical productions. The program is a partnership between:
• Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department
• A Child's Place, an agency that works with homeless children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
• Walter G. Byers Elementary School, where the program was located.
In the past year, Young Achievers included 20 - 30 youth in grades K-5. The program was designed and coordinated by Worsley, the parks department's Select Population Coordinator for the Homeless.
Young Achievers creates positive changes in attitudes and behaviors of the children who participate. Their anger, lack of concentration, and poor self-esteem are reduced. They develop a sense of community through teamwork and increase their feelings of self-worthiness.