SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan and First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today presented a check for $5 million to the Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs to fund Teen REACH programs throughout Illinois. Teen REACH is the program designed to provide positive out-of-school activities for low-income youth. The goal of Teen REACH is to increase academic success while reducing risk-taking behaviors such as substance abuse, criminal activities and premature sexual behavior. It is part of the Futures for Kids Initiative.
“As the summer draws to a close and children are preparing to return to school, we want to make certain that we provide them with out-of-school activities that are safe and healthy,” Gov. Ryan said. “The Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs has always dedicated itself to our young people, and this grant will help them continue to be a safe harbor for Illinois children.”
The check presentation at the state fair for the Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs is part of the expansion of Teen REACH programs throughout the state. Last month, the First Lady announced that the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) is providing nearly $20 million in Fiscal Year 2003 funds for Teen REACH programs. Since Governor Ryan took office, funding for Teen REACH has increased by $11 million--a 141% boost that has allowed more than 100 communities to establish programs that help young people make their out -of-school hours positive and rewarding. The number of Teen REACH programs has grown from 37 in Fiscal Year 1997 to 109 in Fiscal Year 2003. In addition to the 109 Teen REACH programs, the Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs will administer Teen REACH services to 56 Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the state.
Teen REACH stands for Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring and Hope. The program, which began in 1998, is aimed at preventing teen pregnancy, alcohol and other drug use and teen violence. Last year, Teen REACH served more than 50,000 children throughout the state.
“There are too few sanctuaries for young people, who today more than ever, need a safe place to go during the hours they are not in school,” Mrs. Ryan said. “It is a pleasure to be joined today by the Department of Human Services, representatives from the Illinois Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and these wonderful young people who have chosen to say ‘no’ to drugs and gangs, and ‘yes’ to a healthy lifestyle.”
More than two out of three school-age children are in households where the parent is in the workforce. In Illinois that translates to more than 1,400,000 children, many of whom may be left unsupervised. Studies have shown that risky behaviors and juvenile crime significantly increase between the hours of 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. when children are most often left alone.
“Since Governor Ryan has taken office, the department has provided more than $78 million in Teen REACH support,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Linda Reneé Baker. “This grant, and those already issued, will continue to help communities throughout Illinois in providing quality after-school programs.”
Mrs. Ryan is the chair for Futures for Kids, the statewide resource for programs and policies related to the health, safety and education of infants, children and teenagers that makes a significant difference in the lives of Illinois’ children. Futures for Kids stresses prevention and more parental involvement. Since implementing Futures for Kids, the TEEN REACH program has served over 50,000 youth.
The DHS administered Teen REACH program includes academic assistance, recreation and sports, cultural and artistic activities, life skills education, employment training, and mentoring. Its goals are to increase academic success while reducing risk-taking behaviors such as substance abuse, criminal activity, and premature sexual behavior.
Governor Ryan thanked and praised the First Lady for her dedication and success in providing services for Illinois children.
"Lura Lynn has done a wonderful job working with me to implement our vision in providing all of our children with the tools they need to be healthy, safe and productive in their lives," Gov. Ryan said. "I thank her very much for her leadership and hard work."
As part of Futures for Kids Day at the fair, Mrs. Ryan presented the Youth Making A Difference Awards to seven area youth in recognition of their volunteer work within their communities. The awards program is sponsored by the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and is administered by DHS. A list of recipients is attached.
Mrs. Ryan also conducted a demonstration of the Illinois Early Learning website while visiting Tech Town Square at the fair. The website was developed by a University of Illinois team through funding by the Illinois State Board of Education as part of the Futures for Kids Initiative. The site offers information in English and Spanish for teachers, caregivers and parents of children under 5 years of age. It features "Tip Sheets" on popular topics for parents and caregivers; responses to Frequently Asked Questions on promoting early literacy, dealing
with challenging behaviors, discipline, choosing child care, finding appropriate services and interventions for young children in Illinois. In addition, it contains a printable calendar of early childhood and parenting events in Illinois and a collection of "Best of the Web" links on early care and education. The website has run since November 2001.
Earlier in the day, Mrs. Ryan unveiled the most recent Public Service Announcement for the "Be Real" campaign. "Be Real" is the anti-alcohol, tobacco and drug campaign developed by Futures for Kids that aims to empower Illinois youth to believe in themselves and "be real" by remaining drug-free. The program was developed as an outgrowth of the Governor's Teen Summit as a way to coordinate many of the state's anti-drug messages under one theme.
Youth Making a Difference Award Recipients
- Xavier Winter, 16, (Chicago). Xavier is a strong peer leader and an exemplary member of the 17th Police District Peer Jury program. Through the Peer Jury he has helped over 50 teens “find a better way” during the last 12 months and was awarded “Outstanding Peer Juror” in December during the District 17 Police Peer Jury Awards Banquet. Xavier served as a junior counselor for The Albany Park Community Center’s Youthnet 17/Teen REACH Day Camp, where he has assisted in planning events and making sure the campers have an educational and enjoyable time. In addition, he has served as a volunteer member of the Swedish Covenant Health Center on Roosevelt High School’s Youth Council where he has assisted in the planning of several successful events including a teen health fair and neighborhood clean-up project. In his spare time, Xavier volunteers each week as a member of The Albany Park Theater Project’s Teen Theater Group.
- Patricia Nquyen, 14, (Chicago). Patricia is a positive influence in both her school and her community through her efforts at the Chicago Women’s Aid Project where she watches children ages 5 through 13, encouraging free play time, reading and tutoring. Patricia also tutors 7th and 8th graders in math and assists in the school library by shelving books and recovering old books. She also tutors Vietnamese immigrant children in English and mentors children with troubled families or poor grades in schools. Patricia serves as President of the Student Council and is a member of the Multilingual Parent, Teacher, Student Organization addressing the concerns and issues students face in the school atmosphere. She has helped raise money to support the annual 8th grade education trip to Springfield, IL and leads the “Helping Crew” at Peirce School of International Studies, assisting in the cafeteria with carrying trays for students and cleaning up.
- Melissa Prusko, 16 (Carol Stream). Melissa is an effective role model and educator about substance abuse, which allows her to effectively make a difference among her peers and on the communities she serves. Melissa spent her entire school year working with Operation Snowball chapters in West Chicago, were she planned and coordinated the prevention programs for elementary, middle and high schools in West Chicago. These programs target prevention in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. For Snowball, Melissa had a direct influence on her small group of 10 teens and also assisted with the entire program, which gave 75 high school students an opportunity to be educated about substance abuse and the value of individual identity. Melissa also serves as a role model and has accompanied a West Chicago DARE Officer and a group of 5th graders to the DuPage County Jail for a tour and session about the effects of substance abuse.
- Omeka Brown, 17 (Champaign). Omeka serves as President of the Joann Dorsey Unit’s Keystone Teen Leadership Club of the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club Chapter. She has shown her leadership through tutoring younger club members, organizing and coordinating Thanksgiving meals for elderly members in the Douglas Community. She has also planned and implemented a community clean up in the John Dorsey Housing Complex. Omeka also works with Residential Developers Inc. to provide care and assistance with daily living skills to special needs adults as well as acting as a role model to children living in her public housing complex and her younger siblings. Omeka was the 2002 nominee for the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club award and represented the club at both the State and National level. She is also a member of Champaign Central High School’s prestigious Central Academy Academic Honors Program.
- Casey H. Anderson, 17 (Rochester). Casey has provided leadership by encouraging other young people to get involved with service activities. Casey served as a Peer Mediator for Rochester High School, where he conducted several interventions for students who needed assistance with conflict resolution. He has assisted with drug prevention activities for grades 4-12 and participated in development workshops for students at other regional high schools who were starting peer mediation programs. Casey organized a work camp mission to assist with the needs of the elderly and economically disadvantaged in Elkin, West Virginia and has been involved with the planning, fundraising, publicity and youth development activities to support the project. He was also instrumental in the initial planning and organizing of a youth church service, to be held once a month for the Chatham community.
- Kristen Anderson, 13, (Springfield). Kristen has volunteered over 100 hours of community service helping others in her community. Kristen volunteers at the HOPE Thrift Center and the Salvation Army sorting, arranging and stacking clothes for the needy. She also serves in the St. John’s Breadline serving meals to the homeless who come off the street or from the Helping Hand and the Salvation Army. Kristen also assists with the care of 5 children between the ages of 4 and 9 where she prepares meals, provides recreation activities and reads to the youth. She also assisted several teachers at summer youth camp with arts and crafts activities.
- Tara Fasol, 17 (West Frankfort). Tara serves as the “Daily American” local newspaper columnist where she gives youth a voice for their issues and needs. She is the Frankfort High School Newspaper (Redbird Note) Editor and has assisted with a school cleanup project for the parking lot. Tara assisted with the “Baskets and Jackets” project to provide free coats for needy children. She has participated in the Relay for Life Cancer Walk raising funds, the Cerebral Palsy Fundraiser and participated in a Walk-a-Thon for 9/11 victims raising over $400 herself. Tara also serves as a member of the Frankfort Park Advisory Board, assisting with fundraising, pool tours, and helped in getting the pool completed and operating.