HAMILTON, Ohio — While some kids are focused on escaping school for the summer, a special group of students in Hamilton are focused on learning new skills outside of the classroom.
HYPE, an acronym that stands for Hamilton Young People Empowered, is now in its seventh year, according to the program’s CEO, Pastor Shaq Mathews.
The eight-week summer program ended Thursday with 55 students receiving certificates of completion.
Mathews said the summer program is designed to teach middle and high school students about job skills, financial literacy, mentorship and empowerment.
“When you get to handing out the certificates, you see how excited the kids are,” Mathews said. “The parents are there, the community is there to support these kids. It’s just such an exciting time that every year is a new experience. It’s worth all the time, the effort, the fundraising, the organization, the planning, the hours devoted to it.”
For student-worker Lotus Emison, the program was an opportunity to learn new skills she hadn’t learned before in high school.
“I learned things about saving that no one taught me in school,” she said. “I learned how to invest in a future me, which is something I wish I had known years ago when I was going to college.”
Emison said she appreciates the number of people who went out of their way this summer to teach the students.
“If I’m ready to do it, there’s a lot more for me in the world. I don’t come from a big area — I don’t come from a big family, it didn’t matter,” Emison said. “But here at HYPE, I have to be whoever I want. I came up with a job now. I have another job lined up because I met someone here.”
Ja’ron McCloud is entering his junior year of high school this year.
“As much as we have fun, we learn so many things — learning about our future, how to manage our budget,” McCloud said. “For my age, I’m proud to learn that. I’m going to high school, I need to know that.”
Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller and City Manager Joshua Smith explained how proud they were of the group.
“It makes everyone stronger. I appreciate that over the past eight weeks you have made time to see Hamilton,” Smith said.
With the summer program now over, Mathews said they are now turning their attention to an after-school program that will help students study and provide tutoring.
Mathews said anyone interested in helping the program, volunteering or having their child participate in the program can email HypeHamilton18@gmail.com.
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