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CONTACT:1 Fairlawn Drive
Worcester, MA 01602
DESCRIPTION:YouthNet is a summer weekday afternoon and evening program engaging young adolescents (ages 11-15) in community service projects and other recreational activities. Created in 1991 to fill a void in services for middle-school youth, this collaboration of originally seven, now nine youth agencies, with public institutions, businesses, and foundations, has already provided healthy alternatives to over 6,000 young people from all of Worcester's subsidized housing complexes and low-income neighborhoods. It discourages gang territorialism by mixing young people across neighborhood boundaries, and by encouraging friendships, working relationships and team spirit within the mixed populations.
As an outreach program YouthNet has been spectacularly successful. In its first summer, 92% of the youth involved had no previous affiliation with any of the collaborating agencies -- a pattern that has continued for new participants. Program activities are educational, skill-building, problem-preventing, higher education-preparing, and career-promoting. Staff are out in the neighborhoods every day, building relationships, looking for opportunities for projects.
In 1997 YouthNet was one of 10 programs nationwide honored to make presentations to a National Recreation and Parks Association Congress, so clearly it is being considered a national model. Personal donations are needed to help it grow.
(1998: HUMAN SERVICES: Children and Youth: Sports and Summer)
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