Photo caption: Front row (L to R): Diego Haney, Anaiyah Ducan, Azariah Anderson, Dontell Frye. Back row (L to R): Valerie Chase-Robert, Jenelle Leonard, Thelma D. Jones.

Photo credit: Perry Klein

The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Youth Activities Task Force (SWNA YATF) has conducted a summer Computer-for-Kids (CFK) computer training program at the James Creek Resident Council computer center for two consecutive years. The three-week training program was held in the summer (July 25 to Aug. 10, 2017) and the fall (Nov. 6 to Dec. 4, 2017). The classes were held twice a week and included eight neighborhood youths ranging from ages 5 to 13. The curriculum covered basic computer training, which included hardware, software, keyboarding, internet overview, and a brief intro to the Microsoft suite of products—Windows, Word, Paint, and PowerPoint. Students worked toward completing their own project by end of the session. YouTube educational and instructional lessons were occasionally used as supplemental learning activities.

After each session, students had a nutritional snack accompanied by a brief talk on the importance of healthy eating. All the students successfully completed the program with nearly perfect attendance. They were prompt, engaged, and eager to learn. Each student received a refurbished desktop computer from the SWNA Technology Task Force, which was similar to the ones they trained on during the program, with a limit of one computer per household. The training program provides students, as well as their families, with an opportunity to have access to a computer for schoolwork and at home.

The culminating activity was a combined graduation ceremony for the CFK graduates as well as the graduates that successfully completed the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP). The graduation was held on Friday, Feb. 23 at James Creek Community Center. Students who completed the training program included Amenah Adams, Lanae Allen, Lerry Allen, JiVan McNeil, Samari McNeil, Anaiyah Ducan, Diego Haney, James Jenkins, Andrew Harris, Dontell Frye, Azariah Anderson, De’monta King. The MBSYEP graduates included Siani Crews, Breana Vann, Asia Spencer, Maurice Spencer, Shontel Haney, Morricko Washington, Davon Foote, Kasmere Venable, and Korrick Akinola.

Proud parents, relatives, and friends attended the graduation ceremony and reception. Featured speaker Valerie Chase-Robert, regional sales manager at Oracle, gave a motivating and uplifting PowerPoint presentation that focused on the graduation’s theme of “Preparing for Life in a Digital World.” Chase-Robert, an award-winning top sales representative, has more than 25 years of information technology experience serving in sales management, account management, technical sales, and consulting and financial analysis positions. Her awards include Rookie of the Year, Club Excellence, Champions’ Circle, and Systems Engineers Symposium, among others.

Special thanks to Site Coordinator Christine Spencer, who was instrumental in facilitating and scheduling the program, recruiting neighborhood students, and providing assistance and student assistants. Thanks to Gerald Brown and Bonnie and Vic Sutton for assisting with the training. Also, thanks to Perry Klein and the SWNA Technology Task Force for helping with maintenance and upgrades to the equipment at the James Creek computer center, and for delivering refurbished computers to the students’ families. Thanks to YATF Chair Thelma D. Jones for her guidance and support, and securing a dynamic speaker for the graduation ceremony and Vyllorya Evans, reception coordinator.

Applications are now being accepted for the next CFK program, slated to start in early July.

Employing SW youth in summer jobs again allowed YATF to resume one of its signature programs, which started in the mid-1980s after a long hiatus. YATF employed more than 300 SW youths in summer jobs, including providing six weeks of soft skills training, identifying and assigning job placement sites, organizing field trips to places such as the JW Marriott where inspirational speakers addressed a range of topics on how to succeed in the real world of work, and assigning each student with a mentor. SWNA YATF’s jobs program employed youth at job sites such as Food and Friends, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the American Bar Association, Fort McNair, Children’s Hospital, Harbour Square, Gangplank, and the World Bank Group, among others. The popular SW jobs program became the model for the World Bank Group Summer Jobs Program, which was established in 1999 by Jones. The World Bank’s summer job program still exists.

By: Jenelle Leonard

Computer-for-Kids instructor for SWNA YATF

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