On Monday afternoon, instead of Solar Youth going to the library, the library came to Solar Youth.
This winter, the Young Minds Program of the New Haven Free Public Library reached out to New Haven youth development organizations, offering to bring their Readmobile to programs. Loaded with new books, the van brings literacy, fun and learning out to New Haven’s neighborhoods.
Solar Youth’s success as a leading youth empowerment program in New Haven is largely due to partnerships such as this. Since their founding in 2000, they have established long-standing connections with local agencies such as the Housing Authority of New Haven, New Haven Public Schools, New Haven parks department and several other city and nonprofit agencies.
On Monday, children ages 4 through 8 in Solar Youth’s Citycology Program had the opportunity to explore the Library’s Readmoblie.
Each were issued a library card – their first for many of the young stewards.
Janadsia Pue, age 6, resident of Westville Manor said, “I like reading books! I am happy the library came to my house. At home we have books but not like this!”
Solar Youth’s Citycology Program is taught by teenagers trained and hired as youth educators – most who grew up as Solar Youth stewards themselves. Youth teach and learn concepts such as the water cycle, habitats and the anatomy of plants. They go on outdoor adventures and perform their first Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs). Teens help younger children with literacy skills through reading and homework help, and practice mindfulness to help them focus and handle stress.
Wesley Jones, 15, a Solar Youth Intern says he enjoys the opportunity to “be there” for the kids and to be the one to listen to them.
The Readmobile will visit all three Solar Youth neighborhoods sites this spring. It is a library on the go.
“You can do everything the same as a library here, except pay fines,” said Readmobile driver and Assistant Librarian Bill Beckett.
Solar Youth empowers young people to achieve lifelong success through connection to the environment, their communities and each other. Programs are based in three of New Haven’s neighborhood-in-crisis (with the highest rates of poverty and crime), serve youth throughout their adolescence, and incorporate environmental exploration, leadership development and youth-led service to their communities.
On Wednesday, Solar Youth celebrates a milestone 15 year anniversary at its Solar Jam Party and Auction—April 1st, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave. Many New Haven businesses and FOSY (Friends of Solar Youth) have donated unique experiences and items to the auction to support Solar Youth programs and New Haven youth. Visit www.solaryouth.org/solar-jam for more details.
Hanifa Washington works with Solar Youth.