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Op-Ed | The transformational impact of youth enrichment programs

School girl writing in class
Photo via Getty Images

A new school year brings new opportunities to ignite change – and transformational change begins with educating young people on pressing issues that impact our communities locally, across the U.S. and around the world, while empowering them to take action to make a difference.

As New York City students begin this academic year, it’s crucial they have access to varied, supported programs that extend beyond the confines of the classroom through community-based organizations like Global Kids; programs that will teach them about current events, foreign policies, and human rights issues, and how they can take their place at the forefront of groundbreaking social action.

From learning how to advocate for educational equity and gun safety to supporting efforts that stand for food security and climate justice, programs such as these serve as catalysts for change, empowering young people to take steps to positively impact their communities every day. The learnings our students gain from our dynamic global education and leadership development programs help them to expand their horizons, discover their interests, and recognize their potential, while teaching them invaluable life skills that they can apply to their academics and future careers, including how to think critically, hold constructive discussions, and work collaboratively with others.

We must also ensure that youth have access to opportunities that will set them up for life after high school and ultimately result in economic stability, including academic support, college exploration activities, and job readiness programs. These programs make all the difference in ensuring youth are solidly prepared, focused and directed towards a productive future.

These enrichment programs continue to ensure more students graduate high school and go on to attend college, with many earning scholarships and financial support. And there is no questioning that when students step outside their comfort zones and pursue these new opportunities, like community service projects, they carry these experiences with them into the future, and remain active civic leaders, champions of social justice and accomplished professionals across various fields. This is something we see year after year at Global Kids.

These extracurriculars provide valuable life skills and are critical to the overall growth and development of youth, ultimately building our nation’s future leaders. It’s so imperative for schools to continue to partner with community organizations, like Global Kids, to provide these enrichment programs for youth that are often transformational. And as we begin a new school year, I strongly encourage local students and their families to seek out these opportunities to set our young people up for success.

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