city kids wilderness project, part 3:
looking to the future
As City Kids students progress through the program, they become more focused on leadership and job training. A’Lexus, who dreams of visiting Paris and hopes to become a child psychologist, chef or lawyer, says she wants to be a JET, a mentor-in-training for younger City Kids students.
A'Lexus is eager to begin working on her resume. Claire, a junior public health major at Johns Hopkins University, offers to help.
“I like anything with the mission of helping kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity,” said Claire, noting that lower-income students often lack the opportunities to participate in the same after-school enrichment programs as their middle-class peers.
A Seattle native, she was excited to find an internship opportunity that combined her interests in public health, helping youth and the outdoors.
“I was like, ‘Oh! Sweet!’” she recalled.
Barvona, another City Kids intern, calls the experience of working with City Kids Wilderness Project “exhilarating.”
“Their message and their goal is very strong,” she said.
The extensive framework of the City Kids program allows for positive youth development and the broadening of horizons, Eloise said. As each year presents new challenges, City Kids works with the students to develop skills that are becoming more pertinent to their everyday lives and futures.
The older students, for example, focus more on building job skills and being peer leaders. There is a social justice and service-learning element to City Kids projects. Students do workshops on conflict resolution and get wilderness first aid training.
In Jackson, they explore career interest. Business owners have welcomed the kids to visit and learn.
“The community there is incredibly supportive of City Kids,” Eloise said.
Antoine, a 9th grader, said City Kids has taught him not only new skills, such as swimming, diving and camping, but about himself as well. Nature, he said, makes him feel peaceful.
“I learned that I need to be more aware of my surroundings, be more aware of nature, and get out of the house more.”