COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Last year the pandemic forced many youth programs to close their doors in efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This year, one local summer youth program is trying to make it up to the kids.

Rising Youth has a summer program called the “Rising Youth Summer Experience.” Last year, they were able to host this virtually and found it challenging for their participants. One of the biggest things the organizers and mentors learned is how much the pandemic took a mental toll on a lot of their members.

“Last year we ended up having 30 to 35 in the sessions and it was only a few days that we had that,” said Yahaira Rose who is the Director of the Martin de Porres Center through the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

In efforts to make sure the summer program remains available in person. Kids and mentors will be required to mask up and social distance.

“We’re still evaluating how it’ll be outdoors. We will continue using restrictions as [they are] so important,” said Rose.

Rose said she will be able to accept up to 200 participants between the ages of 13 and 18 this summer. This has to do with a grant the City of Columbus provided them.

“We’re going to be to have eight weeks of camp, five days a week from 9 am – 4 pm,” she said.

The grant was given as part of Mayor Andrew Ginther’s “Reimaging Safety” plan.

“We are having partnerships with different leaders in our communities to help our kids understand what is the role within the city? what are some of the responsibilities? and looking at their potential with the city.”

They’ll be looking at different job opportunities, mentoring, careers, physical and mental activities.

“It’s such an honor to be a part of this. It gives kids the skills to learn skills and learn resilience and learn how to deal with the challenges they’ve been dealing with throughout the year,” she said.

Registrations are now open for the program. She wants people to know it is free. The program will start June 14 and end on August 6.

However, she also wants to note Rising Youth has a year-long program as well for kids to get involved in.

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