SEATTLE - With the economy in a swoon, summer camp may not be in the budget for a lot of families.
With hiring down, summer jobs may also be tough to come by, especially for younger teens with no work experience. For Seattle-area families looking for a solution for their teens, a possible solution may be one of the youth programs offered by Seattle Parks and Recreation.
When Cindy Sandino-Chang was fourteen years old, her options for the summer were slim.
"Stay at home. Probably just watch TV. And be bored," she said.
So Sandino-Chang applied for the summer YES program, which stands for Youth Engaged in Service. That summer, she worked at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. She helped around the stage and in the office learning skills that ultimately helped her land a permanent job with the Parks Department after she graduated from high school. She says the YES program helped prepare her for a real job.
"I was able to be around adults, and gain that job experience. And mature a little bit more. So it's been invaluable," she said.
Seattle Parks and Recreation is currently offering two 6-week summer employment programs for teens. The YES program is geared towards 13-15 year olds, and the STEP program is primarily for older teens.
YES provides a small stipend of $150, plus 60 hours of work can be used for the community service requirement for Seattle Public Schools. The STEP program does not offer credit hours, but teens earn $599.
Daily projects in the programs range from administrative work to tasks like cleaning parks of invasive weeds.
"I think it's a great alternative for students that just want to develop their resume," says Ron Mirabueno of Seattle Parks and Recreation. "Because often times it's hard when you're applying for a job that you don't have work experience. Or you don't have a professional reference. And both of these programs can allow students to get that."
The deadline for applying to the YES program is May 15th. The deadline for the STEP program is May 29th.