Lowell’s Leadership Program gives inner city kids a summer camp experience

LOWELL – Jarronai Yary admits that on a lazy summer day, “I’d definitely be on the phone. I’m always on my phone.”

Instead, the 13-year-old and 120 fellow campers are spending the day playing, learning and growing.

“We want to give them something they can do this summer that will keep them active and make sure they’re learning at the same time,” said Larry Devon Wilson, Lowell Youth Leadership Program president.

The inaugural Lowell Youth Leadership Program, for ages 10-16, is inspired by the former National Youth Sports Program that helped people like Andres Lopez when he was growing up.

“I think it gave us access; it gave us connections; some of the friends I’ve met there are still my friends now, so I wanted to recreate that experience for these kids,” said Lopez, LYLP program director.

The two-week LYLP is completely free for campers, with activities throughout the day, including financial literacy, nutrition, swimming, robotics and golf.

“The one big barrier for kids that are in the inner city is they don’t get access to these other things. Like you would never get access to golf. It’s too much money, right,” said Lopez.

“I’m not used to, like, robotics and stuff and technical stuff. It was very interesting seeing, like, things I wouldn’t think would move are moving,” said Yary.

In addition to meals, free transportation is also provided to and from Greater Lowell Technical High School, and campers say they can’t wait to get back on board.

“It’s been a lot of fun. I have a lot of fun, and I always look forward to coming here every day,” said Yary.

For LYLP, it’s just the beginning, with plans for a longer program and more campers in the future.

“We hope one day that camper can become me, can become one of these counselors, or become someone who showed them leadership and then actually goes back and gives that back to their community,” said Wilson.


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