Teenagers gain experience from jobs with city

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer is fun in the sun, having a great time and if you’re one of the 30-plus teens working for the city’s department of leisure services, it’s about making money.

Leisure services director Dwight Mikel said a combination of current high school students and recent graduates — 31 in all — have signed on to work with the city this summer.

“We’ve got them doing everything from general maintenance at the golf course to teaching swimming lessons at Cooper Pool,” Mikel said.

The positions, which are paid at minimum wage, do a great job in filling a need in the community, he said.

“It’s hard to find someone who wants to work outside all day in the hot summer sun for minimum wage,” he said. “But these kids are physically able to do it and they love it. We’ve got kids aged 16 to college age. It teaches them responsibility. They are hired to perform a service for the city. It’s not just to put money in their pocket.”

That is a sentiment Richard Robertson stresses to the students working the summer at the Coleman Center, where some 80 participants attended Tuesday morning.

“Here at the center, we’ve got an open door policy, meaning any child can come,” Robertson said. “There’s no enrollment, but this is not a day care. The kids we have working here have to serve as role models for those kids that come here.

“I’ve had star athletes work in this program,” he said. “I’ve had valedictorians. I’ve had beauty queens. These are people who have a big influence on the children that come here. They’re good students with good character.”

Marketta Williams, this year’s Miss Memolusia, said she loves spending time with the center’s participants.

“She’s my auntie and she’s pretty,” said Williams’ charge for the day, Aniah Simmons.

Seth Kinsaul, a lifeguard at Cooper Pool, said this was his fourth year as a city summer employee.

“It’s a great way to earn money,” he said. “This is going on my fourth year. The kids are fun to watch and it’s a great way to spend the summer.”

Leslie James, who is in his third year of city summer employment, said it’s a great way to learn how to communicate with other people.

“I love it,” he said. “I love kids. I plan on majoring in criminal justice in college. I want to be a probation officer. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but you’ve got to learn how to deal with people. This place is a good start for that.”