Every April at about this time, the Greenwich Youth Conservation Program (GYCP) starts accepting applications from local 14- and 15-year-olds for its summer work program. This year is special, however, because the GYCP is celebrating its 40th year.
“This summer we are planning to plant 40 trees in honor of GYCP’s 40 th anniversary,” said Program Director Christina Nappi. “Our teens love planting trees, and it’s a great learning experience.”
GYCP’s mission is to develop the potential of young Greenwich teens as they make Greenwich a better place in which to live. It came into being in 1978 when former Dept of Social Services staffer Ann Egbert saw an opportunity to create an “earn and learn” program that would give young teens a summer job experience — complete with a supervisor and co-workers — while they enhanced Greenwich’s green spaces.
Participants would come from all areas of town and from public and private schools. While it started as a small pilot project, over the years, GYCP has grown tremendously as it’s gained awareness and support from town residents, non-profit organizations
and local businesses. Today, GYCP – now run by the Greenwich Departments of Human Services and Parks & Recreation — gives 112 young teens a first job opportunity each summer. Over the past 40 years, more than 3,000 GYCP teens have worked at every town property, including all parks, beaches and schools, making a tremendous impact in the community.
As GYCP t-shirts and worksite signs tout, it’s about “Teens Working for a Greener Greenwich.”
A stint with the GYCP is highly sought after by teens with far more applicants each year than available spaces. In 2013, GYCP was able to expand from 72 to 112 participants thanks to local donor The Resource Foundation, Inc. This has been especially important because GYCP helps fill a gap in the summer job marketplace. Once a rite of teen passage, summer job opportunities have declined over the past several decades. “We want to help reverse this trend because teens who can find summer work reap both immediate benefits and skills they can use for future employment,” Ms. Nappi said.
Last year alone, GYCP teens revitalized more than 15 town parks and properties, from Bible Street Park and Bruce Park to Byram Beach and Tod’s Point. They planted trees, shrubs and flowers, and removed invasive plants and debris. This year’s program will again benefit areas throughout Greenwich. Sponsors and private donors make it possible for each teen to receive a stipend. “It’s a win-win proposition,” Ms. Nappi says. “Teens want to learn job skills and make an impact in their community, and citizens and local businesses alike benefit from their efforts.”
Any Greenwich resident ages 14-15 may apply to the GYCP. Public school students may obtain application forms from their middle school guidance counselor or from the Greenwich High School Career Center. Private school students may obtain forms by contacting Christina Nappi at Christina.Nappi@greenwichct.org. The deadline for applications is April 30, 2018.
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