Cleaning up Carbondale

Cleaning up Carbondale
By: Arnold Wyrick
Carbondale, IL - While some kids may still be looking for a summertime job, that's not the case for a hundred kids in the Carbondale area.  They're earning a few bucks, gaining a little self-esteem and beautifying Carbondale all at the same time.
It's all part of a City Wide Clean Up program proposed by Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole back in December 2005.  The city council approved the program in January.  And the kids took to the streets on June 1st to begin picking up, and cleaning up their own neighborhoods.
"We wanted them to develop an aesthetic appreciation for their own community, the community they work in, the community they grew up in," says Program Coordinator Yolande Ajama.
So for the next 8 weeks, five days a week, eight hours a day teams will spread out across Carbondale to get the job done.
"I just wanted to do something for the community.  And doing this is helping out the community, and also the youth.  My major is psychology.  I want to help children.  So this will give me the perfect opportunity to interact with some of the youth around the community," says Team Leader Anthony Cawthon.
There may have been some skeptics at first about spending 250,000 taxpayer dollars to clean up the city.  But just two days into the program and the rewards can already be seen in some neighborhoods.
"It's just a privilege to be doing something like this.  Because I'm not from here, but I used to come down here for the summer.  And I used to think how beautiful it is to come down here from Chicago.  Now we're just trying to get it back to the way it was," says Jarion Weston a Community Worker.
In the end there will be less debris cluttering Carbondale neighborhoods.  But the kids who take part in the clean up will gain something more to help them be better prepared for their futures.
"We're also teaching them job skills, because we have a job skills component to this program.  It'll teach them how to interview, how to present themselves, and communicate with employers," Ajama said.
The kids range from 16 years of age and up.  Their clean up efforts are scheduled to wrap up in the last part of July.