On his 16th birthday Tuesday, Philip Dickson came to the podium at the Sacramento City Council meeting to tell elected officials how a little bit of public money had changed his life, and to show his support for putting more funds into youth programs.
“Imagine a 13-year-old living his life every day thinking about death,” Dickson said. “I used to be doing anything I could just to have fun, riding around with my cousins, just smoking.”
Then, he said, he discovered a basketball program through the Department of Parks and Recreation in his Strawberry Manor neighborhood that has given him a stable and positive place to hang out for the past three years.
“It’s just been different since,” Dickson said.
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By a unanimous vote, council members moved to dedicate nearly $600,000 toward programs like the one that helped Dickson, and others that provide parks jobs, internships and training for Sacramento teenagers.
It includes money to hire 25 young people to work part-time landscaping city parks and four program leaders that the city hopes will be promoted from the ranks of its young workers.
“It’s a win-win,” said Councilman Jay Schenirer. “It’s jobs and training for young people and it’s better upkeep for city facilities.”
The council also approved buying 10 F-150 Ford pickup trucks at a cost of $310,482 to support the new workers. Currently, the city rents some of those maintenance vehicles at a cost of about $86,000 annually. By purchasing the vehicles, the city will be able to employ younger youth program leaders, since rental agreements currently mandate that drivers be at least 25 years old, and reinvest the saved lease payments into youth programs.
Some of the money will also expand programs that prepare kids for jobs by teaching skills such as how to develop résumés and fill out job applications. Other funds will support a job fair intended to place young people in a minimum of 200 internships, as well as provide youth sports and activities such as street soccer.