Flint & Genesee Chamber provides opportunities for K-12 students

FLINT — Students looking to develop new skills, explore new interests and connect with peers and mentors can do so from the comfort of their homes this summer. Both YouthQuest and TeenQuest, which are offered through the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, will be available in a remote format in the coming weeks.

For YouthQuest, the fun begins in late June and early July for students of Flint Community Schools and International Academy of Flint, respectively. How the program is delivered will vary by site, but families can expect the same high-quality content focused on academic support; enrichment; physical fitness and healthy behaviors; nutrition education; youth development and leadership; and family and community engagement.

“Between this year’s school closures and the learning loss that traditionally occurs during the summer, we need to make summer learning a priority,” said Nefertari Jones, program director of YouthQuest, an afterschool and summer enrichment program made possible with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. “As we look forward to the next school year, this is the perfect time to support our local youth with fun and engaging activities that keep them thinking.”

According to Jones, the summer enrichment program will provide virtual sessions complemented by activity packets distributed on a biweekly basis. Each kit will be filled with activities and materials that students can use alone or along with the program. At the same time, the Flint Community Education Initiative will be providing students and families with sports and fitness equipment to use at home.

Students can also expect to attend at least one virtual field trip each week.

The hands-on element is an important part of the program and one that resonates with students including eight-year-old Dakota Knowlton. After schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Knowlton attended YouthQuest’s virtual program, where he took part in at-home science experiments like creating a DIY lava lamp.

“He’s more interested in science now,” said Katherine Bradley, his mother. “Before, that was one of his worst subjects. Being able to do it at home and at his level has really piqued his interest.”

At Flint Community Schools, the summer enrichment program will be part of the district’s Virtual Summer Camp, which will run June 29 to July 23. The program will be held Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon for grades Pre-K-5 and from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. for grades K-8.

At International Academy of Flint, YouthQuest will be offered as a standalone program for students in grades K-12 and will run July 6 to Aug. 6. The program will be held Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon.

Additionally, from July 6 to Aug. 4, the Flint & Genesee Chamber will offer a virtual version of the TeenQuest pre-employment and leadership training program. The summer program is open to all students entering grades 10-12 in Genesee County—regardless of whether they attend public, private, charter, alternative or home school. It teaches important soft skills and prepares them to interview with local employers during the 2021 Summer Youth Initiative Job Fair.

Each week, participants will attend two 45-minute online sessions and complete 90 minutes of self-guided learning.

“This is a great opportunity for high school students who want to get a job within the next year or two,” said James Avery, director of Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber. “By the time they finish TeenQuest, they will have a strong understanding of what they need to do to make that happen.”

To register for TeenQuest, visit flintandgenesee.org/teenquest.

To register for YouthQuest, visit yquest.org. Registration ends June 26 for Flint Community Schools students and Thursday, July 1 for International Academy of Flint students.