Columbia's Youth in Action program keeps teens busy on summer days

Jun 2, 2014

Youth cleaning graffiti
Credit File Photo / KBIA

As the school year wraps up, area youth are left searching for ways to occupy their time. The City of Columbia’s Volunteer Programs sponsors a unique opportunity for 12-15 year olds  with its Youth in Action summer volunteer program.                                                            

Anastasia Harris, an intern for the City of Columbia’s Volunteer Programs, is in charge of this summer’s Youth in Action program.

“Youth in Action is a volunteer program for youth ages 12-15 to serve in their community doing various volunteer work with different organizations and through the city of Columbia, such as stream team, where they clean up the streams,” Harris said. “[New this year] is a mud obstacle course where they will work there and greet people. We also will be working at a food bank, working sorting the food and shipping and packaging it.  So it’s just a great opportunity for kids to get out there, and serve their community.”

This is Youth in Action’s 14th summer in Columbia. The program has seen success over the years, Harris said. She pulled activities from previous years but also added a few new ones.

“And then they are also different times of the day so parents can have a lot of flexibility with dropping their kids off and working their schedules around it,” she said.

Yve Solbrekken’s son Noah participated in the program last summer. By the end of July, Noah had completed 29 volunteer hours- more than any other participant.

“I really think that our son got more out of it than he actually even gave to it, although, I also think that simply these kids going out and doing this and showing that it’s important to them is an excellent thing for the community. So I think it was a win-win,” Solbrekken said.

Solbrekken said the program helped integrate Noah into the community and makes him feel important.   

“They’re making a positive difference in the world. They’re actually doing something concrete that people benefit from, but they’re also showing the world that the youth of today are not a lost cause and they’re not the horrible stuff you see sometimes in the media.”

Activities for this summer’s Youth in Action program begin on June 12th and continue through July 18th. A second open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. Monday, June 9, in the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash.