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Robinson Gardens Youth Group

Robinson Gardens youth discover professional opportunities at Baystate Health

Robinson Gardens youth discover professional opportunities at Baystate Health

Jaleace Lindsay and Azariah Mabry didn’t join the Robinson Gardens Youth Group to learn about job opportunities in the field of medicine, but that is exactly what happened.

Along with many other good things, of course.

The two 17-year-olds, both ending their junior year as nursing majors at Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, participated in an eight-week career exploratory program at Baystate Medical Center that opened their eyes to future possibilities, making them rethink their post-high school plans.

“They have so many jobs in the nursing field, and in the whole hospital,” said Azariah, who is considering a career in physical therapy. “You don’t have to be a nurse as you think of it. There’s a lot more to think about.”

Jaleace Lindsay, 17 and a junior at Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, is learning about health care professions at Baystate Medical Center through her participation in the Robinson Gardens Youth Group.

Jaleace Lindsay, 17 and a junior at Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, is learning about health care professions at Baystate Medical Center through her participation in the Robinson Gardens Youth Group.

Jaleace added, “Going through the program at Baystate made me realize I want to be a pediatric nurse. I love helping people, and I love working with children.”

Both young women are Springfield Housing Authority residents, Jaleace at Robinson Gardens Apartments and Azariah at a Section 8 apartment in the Indian Orchard section of the city.

The Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership introduces young people to a variety of experiences in health career exploration, job mentoring and work readiness. In the case of Azariah and Jaleace, it meant Wednesday early evening sessions for eight weeks in late winter through early spring that showed them real-life medical professionals, sometimes in action, and discussions on what jobs entail in terms of education and job performance.

Azariah Mabry, also 17 and a junior at Putnam, participated in the Baystate Medical Center as well.

Azariah Mabry, also 17 and a junior at Putnam, participated in the Baystate Medical Center as well.

Among jobs they learned about were in the areas of phlebotomy, radiology and imaging, physical therapy, occupational therapy, child life and emergency care.

For one of the two Springfield Housing Authority participants, Jaleace, the experience led her to a summer job as a hospital aide at Baystate. She starts in early July.

“I’m excited because I know I’m going to be learning the whole time, about something I’m very interested in. It’s going to help me a lot,” said Jaleace, who will be placed at the hospital through the New England Farm Workers Council.

Azariah also has a summer job through the same council, at a YMCA of Springfield youth camp.

Both young women have been active with the Youth Group at Robinson Gardens for four years, starting when Jaleace was recruited by SHA’s Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell, who invited her to the group that meets weekday afternoons in the community center in the family development in the Pine Point section of the city.

“I used to go straight home after school and watch TV or take a nap,” said Jaleace with a laugh.

“When I was in seventh grade, Mr. Mitchell around in the afternoon and told us about the group. I thought ‘Why not do something good for myself’ and so I joined,” she said.

Not long afterwards, she and another Youth Group member invited Azariah to join, and she did, getting rides or taking the bus after school to participate in the homework help and other activities that feature weekly visits by local professionals who expose them to fields they can think about as they make their life plans.

“Mr. Mitchell is always talking to us about life and how to do better and learn more. And the speakers are always good. They give us options about what we might want to do with our lives,” Azariah said.

In fact, the Baystate connection came about by way of a visit by Peter Blain, who is manager of the Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership. He told the Youth Group about a variety of opportunities at the region’s biggest hospital, and invited the two dozen teens to sign up for the exploratory program.

Azariah Mabry, Robinson Gardens Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell and Jaleace Lindsay talk about their participation in the Baystate Medical Center' Springfield Educational Partnership program.

Azariah Mabry, Robinson Gardens Youth Engagement Coordinator Jimmie Mitchell and Jaleace Lindsay talk about their participation in the Baystate Medical Center’ Springfield Educational Partnership program.

Jaleace and Azariah responded right away, and got into a class with a focus on nursing. Blain said he led that very class, and enjoyed working with the Youth Group members.

“They were inseparable,” Blain recalled. “They were very enthusiastic. They asked great questions and did a great job. They took it very seriously. They worked hard to get the most out of the opportunity.”

Blain said the program is great because it provides city youth a chance to get into the hospital and meet people in the professions they are interested in. They build understanding of professions and they make contacts with people working in those fields. An extension of the exploratory program is a mentoring program where they work with those professionals.

“They are building initial professional networks that can help them in the future,” Blain noted.

For Mitchell, working with people like Blain is a fine example of Youth Group goals in action.

“Our goal is to have our kids be successful in the area they want to be in as they become adults,” Mitchell said. “I thought this program would be great to bring to Robinson Gardens so our youth could experience good things. And that is what happened.”

2988 days ago / Robinson Gardens Youth Group
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