BOSTON (SHNS) – Young people seeking state funding for jobs programs tried their hand as activists and lobbyists Thursday, marching through Boston to the State House where they appealed to lawmakers to preserve and in some cases increase funding levels in Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget proposal.
“I thought we were getting a positive feedback from the rest of the civilians,” said Daniel Andrade, a Fall River 15-year-old. “Like cheering with us, supporting us.”
Andrade and about two dozen others from a South Coast youth program spent part of school vacation week lobbying for funding so the state’s jobs programs can hire them. “I’ve worked on summer youth already. I mean the reason I’m here is people can see how important it is to have a job.
Kids out there have negative thoughts,” said Ramon Medina, a Fall River 17-year-old. He said, “When you have a job like I do – I work at the summer lunches – that gets you motivated; that gets you thinking; that relieves all the stress you have in your head.”
Medina said the program serves lunch to children in a city park during the summer. The young people from Fall River and New Bedford gathered outside the office of Rep. Antonio Cabral, a New Bedford Democrat, where Cabral’s legislative director Al Medeiros urged the youth to tell lawmakers why the funding is a good investment for the state. “I grew up like a lot of these kids, and now I’m here,” Medeiros told the group. He said funding for the youth jobs programs has been one of Cabral’s priorities.
In the budget, Youth Jobs Coalition wants lawmakers to keep Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed $12 million for the YouthWorks Teen Jobs Program, $9.5 million for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, and wants an increase for the School to Career Connecting Activities Teen Jobs Program, bringing the funding up from Patrick’s $2.8 million to $5 million.