Mayor touts Lima summer youth programs

May 23—LIMA — As the school year winds to a close, efforts are underway to help keep area youth occupied during the summer months. Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith described some of those efforts Tuesday at a meeting of the Lima Kiwanis Club.

While programs like the city's summer parks program come to mind this time of year, there is much more for young people to do in this area during the summer, Smith said.

"We've been working diligently to sustain our traditional programs, but we've been collaborating with community partners to have other programs as well," she said.

One of those new programs making its debut this year is Future Makers, a summer manufacturing camp for children ages 9 to 14. Set to be held July 10 to 13 at the Bradfield Center, this camp is designed to help participants learn not only more about STEM but also to discover possible career paths they could explore that would keep them in the community.

"I know one of the employers that has already signed up is Procter & Gamble," Smith said. "The commitment for the employers is to come in once during the week to do a demonstration of something they do at their actual job. One of the firefighters will come in and talk to the kids about the chemistry and science behind a fire, like what happens with oxygen and water and to actually show them how an explosion occurs."

More information on the Future Makers event will be available on the city's website, and participants will be able to sign up for it by the end of the month.

Smith also discussed the GenNext program, which is a workforce development program for youth ages 16 to 24 to help teach them soft skills needed to enter the job market, such as resume building and how to handle a job interview, while also pairing them up with businesses to get real-world experience while earning a $15 per hour wage.

"I believe we have 12 individuals that have already completed pre-employment classes and training, and they are prepared to actually take those jobs in the coming weeks when school lets out," Smith said. "Some of them will be at Mercy Health and some of them will be at Lima Memorial. We have a couple that will work for the city engineering department, and then we have other individuals that are interested in culinary."

The city's summer parks program is back for another year, but it will be on a larger scale, as the program has expanded from just being at Faurot and Robb parks to now including Lincoln Park on the city's east side.

"This program provides a safe space for children to engage in hands-on learning while keeping their minds and bodies active," Smith said. "They take field trips throughout the community, such as Westgate bowling, Edgewood Skating Rink, the Boy Scout's Camp Berry, the Allen County Museum, OSU-Lima for educational activities and, of course, the YMCA to swim."

This program is scheduled to run from June 5 to July 28, with activities taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The cost will be $50 per family for those attending schools inside the city limits and $60 per family for those attending schools outside the city.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.