By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.
Infuse. Empower. Inspire Youth!
Houston- There are so many things that occur in the world of our youth, and our youth need positive role models, encouragement, advice, and support to help them navigate the world we live in. One organization that is making sure that our youth are equipped with essential skills they need to be successful is Cherrie On Top Youth Center. This center is a non-profit organization that focuses on teaching youth life skills that they need to survive in this world. “Our focus is on cultivating the youth in such that they are successful adults in society,” expressed Shanee Breaux, who is the Senior Community Liaison for the youth center and is responsible for connecting with community.
The youth center does believe that education is important, but they focus mainly on other important skills such as job interviewing, resume and cover letter writing, filling out taxes, culinary skills, sports, character building, and mentoring. “Our main focus is to help them become steadfast professionals because ideally in school, those skills are lost, so we want to make sure that we are providing them to the youth,” stated Breaux. One reason Breaux feels that these skills aren’t taught in school is because it is a lost art and there isn’t a big demand for these skills to be incorporated into schools.
Students who make up the youth center are composed of middle and high school students, but a lot of the students who do attend the center come from underprivileged backgrounds, and the students’ range from ages 12 to 18. Students can be part of the organization based on their needs. For example, they are currently working with some high school students that that are preparing to enter into the workforce and will start helping their families with bills, or even just trying to gain work experience. The youth center provides a mock interview where a panel of HR specialist will come in and students can speak with panel and ask questions and practice their interview skills. For middle school, they focus on conflict resolution skills because they have found that in middle school, that is where there are the most fights, disagreements, and etc. The center teaches these students how to control their anger and how to practice meditation for when they enter the workforce.
Even though students will leave the program when they go to college or enter the workforce, they are still able to receive support from the youth center. “Our hope is that they utilize the skills that they’ve learned to be independent and to be able to survive,” expressed Breaux. The youth center does a great job in keeping close contact with students long after they have left the program. In addition, the youth center promotes travel as well. The center just recently took the students on a youth cruise to the Caribbean. Breaux stated, “We believe that travel is an essential part because some of these kids have never left the North side of Houston, so they don’t know that there is more to life than what they see on a daily basis.” The cruise took place during Thanksgiving week, and the trip was fully funded through fundraisers and donations from sponsors. Everything that the students needed for the trip was paid for including their tickets, clothes, toiletries, and other things for fun activities on the ship. The center is always looking for new adventures to expose to the students.
Last but not least, the youth center is looking to go mobile in the near future. The idea for this is to be able to travel to the students if they do not have access to transportation in order to get to the center. This will help make sure that all students’ needs are met and that no student will get left behind. The youth center has big plans for 2018 and they can’t wait to see what the New Year will have in store for them. For more information about this organization, or for information on how you can get involved, you can visit their website at http://www.becherrie.org/.
Cherrie On Top Youth Center is a PROUD MEMBER of the