Kenaya Streater taught summer campers how to build little rafts and launch them in the water. She was launching her own work career at the same time.
Streater, who’s 15, was a featured speaker Monday afternoon at a press conference marking the start of the city’s summer Youth@Work program, which is providing summer jobs to 650 young people this year. That’s an increase of 75 new participants, thanks to a $10,000 grant from Bank of America.
The Youth@Work program is open to public school students between 14 and 21. They earn $8.25 working as much as 25 hours a week at 78 sites in town.
Streater is one of 13 Youth@Workers spending the summer with Solar Youth, the environmental education organization. The summer staff help run Solar Youth’s two summer camps: one for 9- to 13-year-olds, and the other for 5- to 8-year-olds.
Streater has been attending Solar Youth program since she was six years old. She’s now is taking her first summer job with the organization, working as an educator with the kids in the older group.
Each week of the camp has a different theme, Streater said. This week, it’s “jungle.” Streater taught the kids about rafting and helped them build their own rafts, which they launched in the West River.
By 2:15 p.m., Streater was playing games with the kids inside the Barnard Nature Center at West River Memorial Park. When Mayor John DeStefano showed up to talk about Youth@Work, the kids sat in a ring on the floor.
DeStefano reminisced about his own first job, in 1970, when he was 14. He said he spent the summer cleaning up city parks.
After Solar Youth staffers Streater and Monty Johnson spoke, DeStefano said, “Good jobs guys. We’re proud of you both.”