Mayor Luke Bronin officially kicked off Hartford's Youth Corps Program with a riverfront cleanup at Riverside Park on Tuesday.
City officials said the project is a win, win for everyone. The city gets beautification, but more importantly it puts young people to work, puts money in their pocket and gives them a real chance at a future.
One of those teenagers at the riverfront cleanup was 17-year-old Darrell Roberts. He was pulling weeds out and planting a future on Tuesday.
"It's teaching me to stay in school and having more job opportunities as much as I can,” Roberts said.
Roberts is part of Hartford Youth Services Corp, which is a group aimed at giving inner city kids opportunity. They are paid minimum wage while learning work skills as they clean up the city.
“To my mind there is nothing more important than to make sure of getting young people the chance to get on the right track to a path to opportunity,” Bronin said.
The mulching and weeding teaches discipline and a chance to give to the community while self-improving.
"If you don't deal with a job, then they deal with some other activities that become illegal that becomes their job that leads to street crime them going to jail or possibly getting killed,” community activist Brother Carl Hardrick said.
The young people range in age from 16 to 24, they are referred by the YMCA, boys and girls clubs, through schools and other community services.
“It’s better than me being outside in the streets. I'm not working so might as well,” 22-year-old Vernon Hollingsworth said.
There are currently 200 young people involved in the program, but Bronin said if they could have a thousand kids they would, if they can just raise the money. If they can get that number up, they can raise these lives up even higher.
Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved