ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — The Commons at Towne Square Mall was filled with young people and their mentors on Sunday, as youthOPPORTUNITIES Ashtabula honored some its brightest and best participants.
YouthOPPORTUNITIES helps young people achieve their goals in education and find jobs and countless other services.
This is youthOPPORTUNITIES second year delivering services to local youth.Youth Coordinator Shaelynn Ballard welcomed students and their guests to the ceremony, who gathered to celebrate accomplishments made throughout the 2017-2018 school year.
The accomplishments included obtaining GED or a high school diploma, perfect attendance, completing skills training, program completion, completing post secondary train and military enlistment.
“This ceremony recognized over 150 students who participated in youthOPPORTUNITIES programs during the 2017-2018 school year,” Ballard said.
“We had a reception with refreshments afterwards.”She said Outstanding Student of 2018 was Sarah Wise and the student speakers included Doug Brummit, Brianna Bradley and Sarah Wise.
Guest speakers included Ashtabula County Commissioners Kathryn Whittington and JP Ducro.
Keynote speaker was CTAG Coordinator for the Ashtabula City School District and the Ashtabula County Educational Services Center Sally Bradley, she said.
“We have 603 youth participating in youthOPPORTUNITIES,” Ballard said.
“We help them develop job skills, find employment, earn GED or high school diplomas, learn to drive and all kinds of self improvement activities.
We even help homeless youth and help them get off drugs.
Our goal is to decrease the barriers they face.”She said there were 12 people on staff at youthOPPORTUNITIES and all were willing to help enrolled kids “anywhere at any time.”
“We got a lot of help finding the youth employment at businesses like Lake City Plating and Chromaflow,” she said.
“Local businesses have helped a lot of these young people achieve success.”Jeff Seth, opportunities supervisor of the youthOPPORTUNITIES program and the Ashtabula County Technical and Career Center, said it was great to have an opportunity to recognize participants for their achievements.
“We try very hard to be an all-services program,” he said.“We help them make the needed connections to achieve their goals.”Sally Bradley said the recognition the youth received was well deserved.
“YouthOPPORTUNITIES is a great opportunity for Ashtabula County to get skills and achieve goals,” she said.
“It’s a much needed resource for these young people to attain success.”Montana Proctor, a participant from Ashtabula, said she received recognition for recently being hired at Zehrco Plastics.
“I’ve been in the program for four years and I’ve taken many courses,” she said.
“It’s a really good program. They help with practically anything you can think of. They can give you work experience, a GED, financial help, legal help and support. I got my youthOPPORTUNITIES assistance through A-Tech.”
Ryan Hargrove, of Ashtabula, said he received an award for graduating form Lakeside and being self-employed.
“It’s an amazing program,” he said.
“I got help for Driver’s Education and they paid for it. They’re great people, too. When I first went in to find out about the program they introduced me to all the caseworkers.”
Darvin Watkins, of Ashtabula, said he’s been in the program two years.
“I wasn’t recognized on Sunday, but I attended the ceremony,” he said.
YouthOPPORTUNITIES always wishes you the best and tries to help you achieve your goals.”