Prepping Youth for Successful Futures
October 27, 2020

Categories | Community & Education

Prepping Youth for Successful Futures

County Prestress, through the Sonnentag Foundation, supports charitable organizations and causes that align with the foundation’s four focus areas: Hunger and Homelessness Support, Military Personnel and Veteran Support, Sexual Abuse and Domestic Assault Services, and Youth Mentoring and Skills Building.

Community Action is an organization that is dedicated to providing childcare, at-risk youth services, emergency food assistance, and affordable housing resources to prevent and reduce poverty within the Beloit, WI community. With the support of the Sonnentag Foundation, Community Action is able to provide access and opportunity through innovative programs that eliminate barriers and establish pathways to economic self-reliance.

Rated the first in the state for positive outcomes, Community Action’s PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program) Summer Camp empowers youth 11-19 years of age to make positive choices that will set them up for successful futures. Over the course of the summer, PREP teens learn about building healthy relationships, reproductive healthcare, financial literacy, and increasing self-efficacy. In addition to education services, the summer camp provides free meals and unique field trip opportunities.

Last summer, staff noticed a PREP program teen who came to the community center several hours early each day. Mike would sit outside of the center, keeping to himself, until PREP started. Even in programming, he didn’t go out of his way to make new friends. To staff, it was clear that Mike needed additional support to help him let his guard down to his peers and enjoy daily programming. Staff started to arrive to the center earlier to meet with him and get to know him. They learned that his single mother worked first shift and relied on him to take his little brother to daycare. After dropping him off, Mike walked to the center to avoid being home alone.

With each conversation, Mike grew more comfortable in his surroundings. Towards the end of summer programming, he started to let his true self shine as he actively participated in curriculum and began to make friends. Mike started to talk about the future, in particular, his fears about starting high school in the fall. He wanted to make a new start for himself. In intermediate school, Mike found himself in a cycle of behavior problems. Realizing he needs to make himself, his mother, and his little brother proud, he wanted to turn things around before going down a bad path. By participating in PREP, Mike found the support system he had longed for and established new friendships with his peers and staff members. By the end of the summer, Mike was excited to start high school and begin striving for a future without limits.

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