DAYTONA BEACH — Dyrell Johnson says teens today don’t have the same opportunities as he did growing up, so he launched a program dedicated to teaching teens life skills to help them succeed after high school graduation.
“The inspiration behind the program came from my life experiences, growing up as a teenager in my community and seeing the many opportunities that were present for teenagers back then,” said 29-year-old-Johnson, director of the Community Healing Project. “And now in this era, it seems like those opportunities are fading fast. I had to do something about it. I didn’t want to just accept things as they are.”
Community Healing Project, a Daytona Beach nonprofit, launched “Project GOLD” last year and is partnering with CareerSource Flagler Volusia, which works to place people in jobs.
Johnson said Project GOLD, which stands for “Goal-Oriented Leadership Development,” will teach a wide range of skills as well as career-related topics over a four-week program, which starts Monday. At the end of the program teens will be given a checking account with a modest starting balance.
Thirty-three teens have graduated the summer program. This will be the third session.
“Project GOLD is an employment and empowerment initiative, which is designed for at-risk youth ages 14 to 18 years old,” said Johnson. “We’re equipping them with jobs and career employment readiness skills in order to prepare them to be productive citizens participating in today’s economy.”
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Johnson said the program is broken into two components, life skills and job skills.
“For the life skills section we’re teaching about self awareness, communication skills, problem solving and conflict management,” said Johnson. “In the job training module we have job etiquette, summarize preparation, budgeting planning and teaching how to dress for success. We’re also teaching them about punctuality, which is about respecting the job. So it’s about these two concepts that help shape you into a good person and be a good employee.”
Local entrepreneurs will discuss their journeys with teens
Johnson said the teens will hear from entrepreneurs in the community about their journey.
“This year we’re going to have local entrepreneurs tell the children their stories,” said Johnson. “Most entrepreneurs started right here in this community. So they can see that they can accomplish anything. They will see that they have control over their own destiny.”
Robin King, president of CareerSource Flagler Volusia, said her board is always looking to invest funding into programs dedicated to teaching youth the necessary skills to enter the workforce.
“With this particular program we invested $50,000,” said King. “It’s (job and life skills training) such a critical piece that’s been missing for the last few years. My board of directors really wanted to invest so that we’re not waiting until kids graduate from high school to start this. They need to learn it younger. And it’s not just one and done. When I participated in a similar program a very long time ago, it was a three-year program. I was a tour guide. So I learned about public speaking and how to run a cash register. I was exposed to things that I would not have been exposed to otherwise.”
Janine Thomas, mother of 15-year-old Jacobi Thomas said her son really enjoyed participating in the program last year.
“Jacobi had fun interacting with all of the leaders and felt confident after learning about job placement and what it takes to really take care of a household,” said Thomas. “He came home a few times happy about the topics he learned. Overall I really enjoyed the experience.”
The four-week program’s classes will be held in Daytona Beach at First Presbyterian Church located at 620 S. Grandview Ave. Classes start on June 27th until July 20, between 10 am, through 2 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
For more information, send an email to [email protected] or visit the nonprofit group’s website at communityhealingprojectinc.com.
Erica Van Buren covers general assignment and Ormond Beach government for The Daytona Beach News-Journal and USA TODAY Network. Connect with her de ella at [email protected] or on Twitter: @EricaVanBuren32