Daley, Youth Corps help teens, environment

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A small group of St. John area teens spent the better part of Monday morning engaged in community service and conservation projects as part of a program that attempts to revitalize civic pride in troubled youths.

With the help of Fifth Circuit Judge Thomas Daley, the seven young men and women planted trees in the Highway 51 park and picked up litter along Peavine Road and near Ruddock as part of St. John’s participation in the Youth Corps program, an environmental restoration initiative that spans the River Parishes.

St. John Youth Corps Coordinator Shelita Gaylor said the program got its start in St. James Parish, which was awarded a grant to get the project going. She said representatives from St. James developed a partnership with St. John and St. Charles Parishes in an effort to expand the program’s reach.

“The goal was to create a tri-parish corps of participants with a mission of environmental restoration,” said Gaylor. “The program helps troubled youths with job skills and life skills.”

Daley, who spent the morning teaching the teens how to care for young trees, said the work Youth Corps is doing in the community is a good complement to the Keep St. John Beautiful campaign, which he chairs.

Gaylor explained that the program selects 10 participants per parish who go through a four-month program consisting of community service and classroom instruction. She said the service projects typically focus on wetland development, energy conservation, and upkeep of plant life around neighborhood schools and government facilities.

“We are doing what we can to give these kids a second shot at life,” said Gaylor.