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Daily Newscasts

Getting WA “At-Risk” Kids Involved After School and Summertime

June 1, 2009

Seattle, WA – City and county officials concerned about gangs, youth crime and at-risk kids will be turning to experts today to figure out how to get more teens involved in positive activities. After-school and summer programs are one way to keep Washington State students learning and out of trouble, but a study of after-school participation released in January by School's Out Washington found that only six percent of teens take advantage of those programs.

Jeff Jordan, president and founder of Rescue Social Change Group, says that in addition to having low registration numbers, after-school programs miss the bull's-eye when it comes to reaching their target: at-risk teenagers.

"The kids who are overachieving, those are the ones who are in after-school programs right now. The teens who are at risk are not only not seeking out these programs, but they reject them because it's just not socially acceptable — just not cool."

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has set a goal to cut youth violence in half by June 2010. Members of the Youth Violence Task Force will be among those in Seattle to hear the presentation.

Unlike younger students, teens expect to get something in return when they invest their time, Jordan says. That's why he suggests that after-school programs be structured more like sports programs, which reward teenagers for the hours they put in.

"Where there's a competition or there's a state finals, my peers get to see me. This becomes a very socially rewarding, very socially valuable experience. We need to make dance that way, we need to make art that way."

Jordan also urges that all after-school and summer programs be promoted in a way that speaks to youth culture.

More information is available at Statistics are online at§ionid=169.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA