Program recruits students to work with other kids

Jemal Humphrey is one step closer toward his career goal to help troubled neighbourhoods.


The 17-year-old graduate of George S. Henry Academy completed three days of intensive health-and-safety training Friday, along with 185 other teens from high-risk districts hired for the inaugural summer of the Focus on Youth program in Toronto. “I get to work with kids — keep them out of trouble, keep their minds focused,” he said of day-camp responsibilities he takes up today.


Another Focus on Youth recruit, Janice Hines, 18, said she wants to help youngsters in the 10-to-14 age range, the time when many “start thinking they should be gangsters.”


Ontario’s education ministry put up $4 million for the program, which has come together quickly in the last few weeks. The funding is allowing 108 schools in low-income areas to remain open all summer so community organizations can offer activities designed to keep kids busy and safe.


In all, 300 students have been hired as counsellors and coaches for the activity centres.