LEWISTON — Twenty-eight local high school youth held jobs as StreetLeaders for summer programming at Tree Street Youth. Together, they provided mentoring and support for over 150 youth K-12, as they participated in sports, arts and academic activities for six weeks of innovative programs.
Each year StreetLeaders are selected through a strenuous process of applications and group and individual interviews. Each must hold a B average or higher from their local school as well as demonstrate drive and passion for serving their communities.
The StreetLeader program has grown significantly over the past three years. The first cohort of StreetLeaders in 2011 consisted of just eight teens. To accommodate the needs of the children and youth served, the StreetLeader program has expanded from just StreetLeaders (11th and 12th grade) to include Junior StreetLeaders (ninth and 10th) and four team leaders, each of whom leads a sub-group of StreetLeaders, as well as three teaching assistants who assist the summer interns in teaching the lessons during morning and afternoon life enrichment programming.
StreetLeaders reflect the diversity of the neighborhood they serve, coming from an array of backgrounds such as African-American, Anglo-American, biracial, Native American, Somali, Djiboutian, Congolese and Burundian. These young leaders bring energy, passion and insight that is demonstrated in their interactions with the children and youth each day at the program. StreetLeaders also serve as a source of support for the Tree Street staff and interns.
“We couldn’t be more proud of these youth and all they stand for. They exemplify what it means to be a leader amongst the youth of the community both in and outside of Tree Street. The impact they have on those around them stretches far beyond the walls of Tree Street to create positive change and empowerment for all youth of L-A,” said Executive Director Julia Sleeper.
Tree Street thrives because of youth who choose to engage with the center and their community. The StreetLeaders epitomize organization’s purpose, to engage youth and build unity across lines of difference. Young children and youth look up to StreetLeaders and strive to one day become a leader at Tree Street.
“What we see at Tree marks a very positive contrast with too many Maine teens who lack the opportunity to enjoy the experiences of holding a summer job and developing their commitment to community,” said Betty Robinson, board chairwoman. “These are the opposite of disengaged, idle young people.”