Youth Program Awarded Grant For Park Projects

BERLIN – The efforts of a local youth group have resulted in a grant to bring environmental improvements to Henry Park.

Boys in Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services’ SABERS (Strengthening Adolescent Boys with Education and Resources) program worked together to win a grant at the Youth Environmental Action Summit held in Salisbury this month. The grant will cover the cost of adding recycling and trash bins, as well as a rain garden, to the area around the basketball courts at Henry Park.

“This event was designed for the youth to come up with an environmental change plan that was important to them,” said Tiffany Scott, youth programs coordinator for Worcester Youth, in an update to town officials Monday. “What was important for them was to make improvements at Henry Park where they often go and play basketball.”

The SABERS were awarded the grant after taking part in the Youth Environmental Action Summit that was held at the Ward Museum in early April. The event, which was created to show kids ways they could help address local environmental issues, included workshops and educational experiences for participants. During the summit the SABERS presented their plans to improve Henry Park, where many of them play basketball.

“They won the grand prize in the middle school category which is phenomenal because they didn’t even want to go,” Scott said. “They were so fearful to go and present that they literally did not want to go. It took a lot of encouragement… I said you know it’s ok to be afraid. You’re going to have fear but you’ve got to walk through that fear because on the other side of that is greatness. They did that and I’m so proud of them.”

With the funding awarded through the summit, the SABERS will be able to add recycling and trash bins near the basketball courts at Henry Park. They’ll also be able to install a rain garden to capture excess runoff.

“We’re going to get going on this particular project next week,” Scott said. “We’re going to start ordering some of the plants and then we’re going to partner with Maryland Coastal Bays and the town to get those different things implemented.”

Steve Taylor, executive director of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, said the summit had provided the boys in SABERS with valuable learning experience.

“A lot of times we’re taking small steps with these kids,” he said, “but then something like the environmental youth summit comes along and it’s a huge step. They’ve taken ownership of their community, they understand the importance of partnership and engaging others. They learn from that experience how they can make this community better and stronger than it currently is. That’s a valuable lesson that will never be taken away from these kids.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.