Almost two decades ago, in 2004, Second Story began a new experiment – a program that, we hoped, would help young people that wound up needing support like ours in their teenage years. They were elementary school students experiencing unique challenges – their families were impoverished, their communities had high rates of crime and human trafficking, their peers were recruiting them to join gangs, and they were spending most of their time in crowded, small, unsanitary homes.
We dreamt of creating a space for them in their own neighborhood, and we wanted to stay true to our mission of providing safe havens and opportunities. So, we opened an after-school program, a place where young people could be safe after school. This is how Second Story’s Safe Youth Projects were born! The first was in Culmore, two years later we opened another in Annandale, and in 2014 opened our third in Springfield. Young people in Second Story’s Safe Youth Projects eat a snack, get tutoring from caring staff and volunteers, go on exciting field trips, and learn from other members of the community. During the school year they bring their schoolwork and in the summer the programs function like a summer camp, beginning earlier in the day. This summer, young people are doing fun things like visiting water parks, going to the library, participating in community events, rock climbing, and going bowling!
We tagged along with the Springfield Safe Youth Project earlier this month to see what a day in the life is like for them this summer.
1:00 – Young people begin trickling into the Springfield Safe Youth Project. The program technically begins at 1:00 pm in the summer, but sometimes they’re waiting for the program coordinator at the door, hoping the day will start early!
1:30 – Snacks first! The program coordinator makes them soup and snacks before they even go on the field trip. Once young people are finished with their snack they might start playing board games or card games while they wait for the rest of their friends to arrive and eat. Today we’re heading out for a bowling field trip! Everyone is very excited.
2:30 – Time to load up on the bus and drive to the bowling alley! Second Story is thankful that we can provide transportation for young people using our 12 passenger vans.
2:45 – Time to bowl! Once we have our shoes we need to pick out the perfect ball.
3:00 – 5:00 – Bowling time! The boys are on one team and the girls on another.
5:30 – After a few games, it’s time to leave. We bring young people back to the program so that they can head home for the day. We’ll see them again tomorrow!