If you don’t give kids positive ways to occupy their time, they may find destructive ways to spend it instead.
Joanne Sciulli, head of the young people’s environmental organization Solar Youth, offered that theory Tuesday morning as the mayor unveiled a whole book of positive activities for kids in New Haven.
The booklet, officially entitled “The Mayor’s 2011 Youth Guide to a Summer of Fun, Learning & Adventure,” is a guide to all of the summer programs available to young people and teenagers in New Haven this summer.
Sciulli, who heads a group that runs summer and afterschool youth programs, was one of several leaders of youth organizations who joined the mayor in the fieldhouse at Hillhouse High for the official book launch on Tuesday morning.
Facing a bank of TV cameras, Mayor John DeStefano spoke about youth opportunities while gunfire erupted behind him. It was not problematic gunfire, but rather a starting gun for the Rotary-sponsored track meet underway in the cavernous gym.
Five thousand kids will take part in summer school programs working on activities like literacy and test preparation, the mayor said. Youth At Work, the city’s summer employment program for teenagers, will employ about 650 kids. The parks department is running a variety of summer camps.
Between summer school, youth camps, and Youth At Work, 10,000 slots are set aside for young people to be involved in some types of activity this summer, the mayor said. “It’s part of a coordinated fabric of youth services.”
Assistant Police Chief Pat Redding said the police are offering Police Athletic League programs and the Explorers Program, a sort of a junior police outfit. Those activities serve to help build bridges between police and young people, Redding said.
The city is distributing 22,000 copies of the guide in English and 6,000 in Spanish. It’s also available here at the city’s website.
As the mayor and others spoke, young people sprinted by, taking part in the annual Rotary Youth Olympics. It’s a three-day track meet for seventh and eighth-graders in the city. Five events were lined up, including shot put and long jump.
After the press event, middle-schoolers squared off in the 4x200-meter relay.
Seventh grader Darius Wise (not pictured) led his squad of four East Rock Magnet School relayers to victory in their heat, with a time of 2:06.74.
Amber Ross, also a seventh grader, ran the anchor leg for Worthington Hooker. She overcame a deficit to burn past the first-place team and win with an overall time of 2:23.72.