The threat of severe cuts in city and state funding for youth programs, particularly the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), inspired young people in our community to let lawmakers know how important these programs are for Sunset Park families.
On Youth Action Day in February, teens and staff representing all of the Center’s youth programs took a trip to Albany, where they met with over 30 Assembly members and state legislators. While there, they also attended a rally organized by the Campaign for Summer Jobs, a coalition of New York City community agencies led by United Neighborhood Houses (UNH).
Participants, parents, staff and worksites employing youth in the summer also sent over 1,500 letters to state and city lawmakers and officials, including Governor Patterson, Assembly Member Felix Ortiz and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. Young advocates, parents and staff testified at City Council hearings on the planned budget cuts.
“I felt that I played an essential role for all of New York youth because not many young people get the opportunity to fight for summer jobs and voice their opinion,” a youth participant said. “It was a powerful experience.”