The Northern Westchester Examiner

County Funding Approved for Peekskill Youth Program

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Leg. John Testa helped secure county funds for a Peekskill youth program.

A successful program run by the Peekskill Youth Bureau for middle school-age students will continue for at least another three years thanks to funding approved by the Westchester County Board of Legislators.

Under the terms of an inter-municipal agreement, the county will contribute $45,000 annually through 2014, while Peekskill will chip in $24,000 for the “Advancing Leadership for Teens” program, which serves approximately 180 kids.

“While we have seen a lot of our community programs cut or even eliminated in municipalities across the county, I am very gratified that we were able to arrive at this agreement between the county and the City of Peekskill,” said county Legislator John Testa (R-Peekskill), a former Peekskill mayor and teacher at Peekskill High School. “This is an investment in our greatest resource in Peekskill and Westchester, our kids, and it will pay great dividends far beyond the terms of the agreement.”

Youth Bureau Executive Director Valerie Swan said “Advancing Leadership for Teens” is a year-round program serving 11 to 13-year-olds who “are too old for camp and too young to work.”

She said the nine-year program has been so successful that there is currently a waiting list.

“It’s a major program for kids that are sort of in-between,” Swan said. “It is successful because there’s very little for kids to do at their age.”

Swan said funding for the program is used to pay staff, as well as the students, who receive a nominal weekly stipend of about $25 for community projects and service programs they participate in. The program also aims to prevent health risk behaviors in kids by providing health education, youth activism, academic and educational services and dropout prevention.

She noted $45,000 was the maximum she was able to request from the county. “I appreciate what Mr. Testa is doing. I wish he could get us a few more dollars,” Swan said, noting the funding does not cover transportation costs.

The program runs from 3 to 6 p.m. during school months and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the summer.

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