WAGES program reaches out to teens
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 28, 2009 1:46 PM
WAGES Teen Self Sufficiency Project Manager Treda Dunn talks to a group of teens involved in the "Preparing Teens for Life" program at the Boys & Girls Club during the group's recent holiday celebration.
WAGES -- Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency -- has gone a step further in its effort to create self-sufficiency among Wayne County residents.
Through some of the stimulus money received from the government, social workers are holding seminars each month at the Boys & Girls Club aimed at helping teenagers take responsibility for their behavior.
Appropriately named "Preparing Teens for Life," the program partially was created in response to a community survey conducted earlier in the year.
"We have a committee of community members and several times a year we survey them about needs -- that's where Preparing Teens for Life came from," said Rob Das, assistant director for the Community Service Block Grant at WAGES. "It was felt that if we can be a positive influence on teens, maybe we can set them up for future successes."
The target group is middle-school students, Das said.
"They're still in school and we really want them to finish," he said.
A variety of topics have been discussed since the program was introduced nearly five months ago.
"I attended one where they talked about finances and made a list regarding needs versus wants in a family," Das said of one session exercise. "The young people all sat down at about six different tables and they gave them a scenario, declaring each table a family."
The scenarios ranged from a working family to ones where members were between jobs, Das said. The youths were given monthly bills and asked to budget and set priorities about how money would be spent.
The 90-minute sessions have proven worthwhile, he said.
"Getting to know these young people, it's really neat to see the expressions on their faces. They get the fact that this is a neat program. It's interesting to see that some of the kids were fairly plugged in and they helped train their peers."
WAGES provides five staff members to conduct the program at the Boys & Girls Club in Goldsboro. They are "awesome role models" for the kids, Das said.
"Who knows? Some of the kids might not have that at home," he said. "They get positive encouragement. We feed them a snack.
"But that's not everything we do -- we change people's mentality, that they can be self-sufficient, own their own home, buy a business."
The premise is right there in the program's title, he said.
"We want to equip young people with some basic skills, change their mentality if necessary. We care about them. And they can get out there and be self-sufficient with the right education and skills."
If young people can be motivated to stay in school, at the very least acquire a high school education, they'll be better prepared for adulthood, Das said.