DeWire says that he is pleased with the progress the program has made in providing them with new opportunities. “The faces of the children when they understand and complete their work,” Dewire said, “or when they create an art project that ‘I gave to my mother,’ makes it all worth it.”
Youth Rap was originally set up as a recreational outlet for kids in the Holyoke area, but was a loosely-organized after-school program in 1999. Together with Gustav Acosto, director of Youth Rap, DeWire and Jen Cannon, coordinator of Community Outreach, were able to extend the agenda, creating a tutoring component in addition to entertaining the children.
They also acquired money from the America Reads program to pay students on work study.
According to DeWire, “funding was acquired from the SFC to supply Youth Rap with general school supplies, books and recreational equipment,” and to fund on-campus events such as this year’s Halloween celebration, which was co-sponsored by Students Engaged in Active Service.
The Amherst students who participate work two hours a day each week. They do homework with the kids, who range in age from 8 to 13, and they also spend time doing more leisurely activities.
DeWire is also proud of the helpful student leadership which Youth Rap has seen. This past spring, Myrialis Moran ’03 “magnificently” ran the program, and this year, Travis Bristol ’03 is “superbly engineering it,” according to DeWire.
DeWire sees Youth Rap as “a permanent and productive part of the Holyoke community,” and believes it should continue on this campus as a popular facet of Community Outreach.
Any student wishing to participate should send an e-mail to Travis Bristol ([email protected]).