Standing in a youth gym, at the White Plains Youth Bureau, Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced that he is working with the Westchester Board of Legislators to restore Invest in Kids funds previously cut from New Rochelle, Peekskill, White Plains and the WJCS Center Lane youth programs. Photo, Courtesy Westchester County Department of Communications
WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester Department of Communications. January 27, 2018:
“As we can see from the headlines every day the need to address the problems of our youth, urban and elsewhere, is critical,” said Latimer. “We are at fault if we don’t make those investments.”
The funding dollars total about $300,000, and will be distributed to the Youth Court Program in New Rochelle, the L.I.F.T. Program in Peekskill, WJCS Center Lane in Yonkers and the Step Up Boys, Clubman Higher Aims and Healthy and Fit for Life Programs in White Plains.
“These programs are necessary for young people to give them the opportunity to move up in our world, and make a contribution in terms of their education and their abilities,” said Alfreda Williams, Vice Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. “Without these programs, our youth suffer.”
Latimer was also joined by Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, newly appointed Youth Bureau Director for Westchester County. Harris-Madden echoed the importance of funding these programs. “I understand keenly the job, and the onerous task, of implementing programs in communities that have hardship,” said Harris-Madden. “We have seen a recent uptick in violence in New Rochelle, and this is not the time to cut the lifelines to these communities.”
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said, “I cannot tell you how many young people I know that are amazing at what they do, and I know that if it wasn’t for a mentor or a youth program, they would have lost that creativity. It’s not just about doing right for our young people now, it’s about doing right for our community and our future.”
Frank Williams, Executive Director of the White Plains Youth Bureau, said it is crucial to provide a range of structured activities for youth with diverse interests and needs. “We know what they need. They need connections with loving adults, they need caring hands, they need pathways and opportunities and they need support. They need these wrap-around services,” said Williams.
Allison Lake, Deputy Director at the Westchester Children’s Association said: “The WCA looks forward to working with the new administration to continue the incomplete work of making youth funding transparent, effective and responsive to youth needs.”
Coach Terrance Mack, Director of the Healthy and Fit for Life Program in White Plains, said he has witnessed first-hand how youth can benefit from being a part of a community program: “You need to be fit, mentally, physically and spiritually, to overcome the challenges you’ll face in life.”
Tayevaughn Williams is a graduate of the White Plains Step Up Program, who said the youth group helped him with social skills, his education and preparing for his future. “We talk about different things that youth my age are going through. There is a lot that we experience on a daily basis and it gives me the opportunity to think about where I am, where I’ve come from and how to persevere in life through all of the struggles.”