COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther is planning historic investments in youth programming this summer as more central Ohio teens have been impacted by gun violence.
Authorities found a 15-year-old boy suffering from a gunshot wound on E. 20th Avenue in South Linden on Thursday morning. Nearly 50 minutes later in the Hilltop neighborhood, police found a 19-year-old also suffering from a gunshot wound.
The victims are expected to survive and police are beginning to investigate both incidents. Ginther said it is upsetting to hear new of more teens who have been impacted by gun violence.
“It pains me to think of young people being victims of and perpetrators of violent crime,” said Ginther. “I’m a big believer in curfews. There’s a curfew at my house and I need folks to put a curfew in place in their homes too. Know who your kids are with, know where they are.”
Columbus police said four teens have been victims of homicides so far this year, and six teens are homicide suspects.
“We all have a role to play. One, violence crime, one homicide is too many,” said Ginther.
Ginther said they have plans to make investments in youth programming once again this summer. He said they are still finalizing plans for summer camps and job programs, and the city isn’t the only one. The Columbus Urban League is busy gearing up for their summer program aimed at showing teens they can succeed, called the Work Readiness Training University.
“They are going to come in, they are going to start their assessments, we are going to get to know them even more and they are going to start on career explorations. What is it that you want to be when you grow up? And have fun and exciting things that will keep them engaged and entertained,” said Jeanene Hooks, the Vice President of programming for the Columbus Urban League.
Hooks said the paid job and internship is for teens 14 to 19, making $15 an hour. They will start with a six-week summer program, then move on to another two-week program focused on learning about who they are and building core skills.
The 16 to 19-year-olds will do a little bit of prep, then they will be turned into interns where they will be out and about working in Franklin County.
“Ultimately it’s about development and growth,” Hooks said. “What it is to see your name and a dollar amount and seeing that you’ve earned that. So, it really is connecting the dots to youth in terms of learning and earning and working and earning.”
Program leaders said the teens will learn skills to succeed in the workforce or go to college, receive mentorship and access to things they may not have at home.
“We want to impress upon our young people that they have worth, and they have value and we are here to really mine the best out of them so they can bring that forward,” Hooks said.
The program kicks off on May 26 with the plug program, and will have a leadership summit June 19 to 22 at Otterbein college. Then the summer program will begin June 26 and go through August. Hook said they are working on creating a year-round program to offer these services throughout the entire year.
This will be the program’s first year at their new location on Agler Road. The building is meant to be a hub for the teens to not only learn but also a place to hangout. Hooks said they’ve already had around 400 teens apply for the program. The application is still open for teens to apply, view it here.