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Step Up Omaha teaches student important skills during pandemic

Summer Program resumes in person learning for last week.
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 6:44 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Step Up Omaha, a youth employment network, is wrapping up its summer program.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions organizers had to change how the program normally operates each summer.

This year the program saw 510 interns ages 14 to 21.

“We knew that we couldn’t have our normal 25 you know classrooms and things of that nature live, so we had to decide to go zoom,” Moniki Cannon, the program’s employment director said.

After two months, Tuesday was one of the few days some of the interns had the chance to participate in person.

“These individuals have gone through our construction cohort. So they have been doing hands on learning as well as learning that has taken place at home,” Cannon explained.

Normally students would be allowed to work in person. They would spend time learning about new jobs and gaining new skills.

This year organizers had to get creative.

The Empowerment Network partnered with the Bryant Center to teach some of the ‘Intro trades and Construction’ courses.

“We decided to give them a mission. And that mission was to go home and look at anything that needs to be done in your house. And that is the project they’re doing now,” Sundiata Menelik, Executive Director at the Bryant Center said.

Tuesday afternoon, some of the interns were learning how to repair a window screen. Others learned how to paint.

During the program they also learned how to repair windows, doors, railings, and a variety of other items.

The interns also received their OSHA certifications.

“You go over stuff like constructions, fall hazards, like different stuff like that,” Jermoni Ivory, an intern, explained.

The area of trade is where Cannon said they have been wanting to enhance in their program.

“And so just showing young people that trades is an option. And not only is it an option, but it’s a viable option for you to make a great living,” she added.

Although many changes had to be made to this year’s program, organizers said it was successful.

“We definitely increased our technology. I think in the past we’ve been able to have so much hands on that we didn’t use technology to the best of our abilities. But we know that we are definitely going to have those aspects,” Cannon said.

Other areas of the program also focused on learning about the stock market, websites, entrepreneurship, and more.

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