Social services get kids excited to head back to school
Charles County Department of Social Services (CCDSS) held a back to school jam last week to get community teens ready for the new school year. Supplies and resources were free at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
On Aug. 9, the CCDSS Back-to-School Jam for youth ages 14-21 that are in foster care or involved in the other local services, along with a wide array of community partners such as Charles County Sheriff’s Office, Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, College of Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools, Charles County Department of Health and a few of the youth from Calvert County and St. Mar y’s County all joined in on the fun as well.
“The back to school jam is the beginning of a new era for the Charles County community and its relationship with the youth that we serve,” said Therese Wolf, director of CCDSS. “The Department of Social Ser vices is committed to creating opportunities for each of our young adults to establish relationships in the community that will help them set and achieve goals. This is all about working together.”
“It’s very critically important for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office to be involved in young people’s lives because children are not just our future, they are our present,” said Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry (D). “We want to encourage them to stay in school and be the best that they can be since someone did it for us when we were younger. It’s really important for parents and children to know that their community leaders support them.”
Imani Booker and Pablo Gary organized the event filled with music, games and information for teens, such as how to obtain a driver’s license and student internship and job opportunities. Booker and Gary said they don’t want students to miss out on any opportunity to better themselves.
“The youth got a tangible feel of the resources that they have around them,” Gary said. “Me and Imani Booker worked hand-in-hand on this because we are trying to change the mentality in Waldorf so that it’s a family mentality where they have continuous resources. I was in foster care from [age] 15 to 21, so I understand the need and when there’s a need you have to react.”
“We want to get the youth excited and thrilled about going back to school,” Booker said. “We want the youth to know that we are here to stand behind them and support them through their educational journey. We are providing them with school supplies from pencils and pens to backpacks and raffle items, iPads and technology they are excited to win. Our youth have a lot of struggles they go through so we want them to know this is their village and all hands are connected.”
Teens, adults and families played kickball, tugo-war, completed several trust activities and walked away with resources to keep handy. Del. Edith Patterson (D-Charles) was there to distribute information about delegate and senatorial scholarships and applications available to young people.
“As a legislator, we offer programs and financial assistance for students who are in foster care or need help from the state,” Patterson said. “My biggest concern is for foster kids who age out and getting them in college. We have funds within the budget to give individual scholarships to students who are graduating seniors.”
Like Patterson, many parents present thought the event was entertaining but had a serious message. Theresa Stevens, a Waldorf resident who is also a foster parent, brought her family to the back to school jam to take advantage of the resources being provided.
“I think it’s an outstanding event that gives children an opportunity to go from table to table, using the scavenger hunt-type of theme and learn about different opportunities that’s afforded to them,” Stevens said.
“This is my first time being at the event and I like it so far,” said Kiara Stevens, 16, a student at Grace Christian Academy and Stevens’ biological daughter. “I saw the driving education classes and I have my permit so I was glad to see that information.”
La Plata residents Ryan Janes and his wife Stephanie Janes brought his two children and his four younger siblings, of whom he recently gained custody. He said a case worker from Child Protective Services told his family about the event and advised them to get some school supplies for the kids.
“We have a lot of children to provide for, so it’s nice to be able to come here and get supplies for school and other resources,” Janes said. “This keeps them active and it’s good to be at an event where we can function as a family.”
Case workers from the Charles County Department of Social Services hand out school supplies and information for students at the back to school jam held Aug. 9 at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
On Aug. 9, Sheriff Troy Berry (D) and members of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office spoke with local teens at the Charles County Department of Social Services’ back to school jam at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.