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Summer jobs programs teaches life lessons

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When young people have no responsibilities or creative outlets, they're left with a lot of time to figure out ways to stay busy. Sometimes what they come lands them in trouble. You know the saying about an idle mind. Tuscaloosa's Hope Initiative summer jobs program was created to give young people experience and keep them off the streets.

This isn't just about taking home a paycheck for the summer. This is expected to have a more widespread impact on the community as a whole. The Hope Initiative was born five years ago with the goal of cleaning up seven crime ridden areas in Tuscaloosa. The summer jobs program came out of the initiative. 

City leader's realized young people must have accountability for the role they play.
The program is now in its second year. This summer, 30 students are working at various locations throughout the city, and learning important life lessons along the way. Each has a unique story and challenges. But all of them know they also have tremendous potential. 

The students are required to attend class from 8 am until noon. During that time, they learn about resume writing, proper work attire, conflict resolution and other work-related topics. Once class ends, there is a lunch break, and then it's on to the job placement locations to work from one to five.

Sontonia Stephens works for Community Service Programs of West Alabama. The organization facilitates the Hope Initiative summer jobs program. Stephens says it's all about laying a solid foundation.  

"We're hoping to instill in them a work ethic. When the students start the class they are a little reluctant because they really don't know about being employed. But the more they go to class and the more they get experience on these jobs sites, there's a huge change."
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