Mentor Shatia Ramsey, left walks on the sidewalk with Corey Lee, Kaleigha Seaborn and Zaviyon Perry to prepare training.

Many believe that early work experience such as that provided by summer jobs can keep teens out of trouble, foster positive traits such as independence and responsibility and teach interpersonal skills than can enhance their future employment prospects and earning potential. This is especially true for disadvantaged youth.

Every year tens of thousands of youth participate in summer employment programs. Participation in summer job programs reduces youth involvement in and exposure to violence and delinquent behavior.

Gene Porter, of Strong Temple Fitness, has began a program called “Hear Me Out Mentoring & Recreation”. He recognizes through personal experience the importance of keeping teens busy and productive.

Porter has created a platform for several teens in the community with The Summer Youth Employment Program. Through the Crater Workforce Development Board Porter is helping with getting teens ready for work readiness, communication, time management, following instructions and other “soft skills” that are difficult for youth to demonstrate without a track record of work experience.

Porter said he wants to give the youth what he feels what was missing for himself when he was a teen.

“It’s important for me to add value to others and it begins with our youth,” Porter said.

Mentoring has been proven to help youth better express their feelings, improve school grades, expect more of themselves and get along better with others. But mentoring isn’t just one-sided, in fact there is a shared growth between mentor and entree. Some benefits from youth mentoring include increased self esteem patience and supervisory skills. Teens who can’t seem to find their fit in their normal everyday lives may discover a sense of belonging.

“I am very appreciative for this opportunity,” said mentor of Hear Me Out Isaiah Seaborn. “Being able to give back to the community through sports and helping with the younger kids, showing them how to help each other doesn’t feel like work.”

Martina Bullock who assists Porter with he program said participants have the opportunity to explore their interest, develop workplace skills and engage in learning experiences that help in developing their social, civic and leadership skills.