Local teenagers clean up communities with help from grant program

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A group of local teenagers turned giving back to their communities into a summer job.

The Appalachian Conservation Corps. hires 16 to 18-year-olds to work for four week sessions to work on projects. Leslie Baker, Beckley Director of Parks and Recreation, said planning for the grant program to come to Beckley began last winter.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be able to put young people to work and to give them skills and to mentor them throughout the summer and it’s just been a wonderful program,” said Baker.

Most of the projects involve cleaning up around local museums and parks, as well as giving the community new artwork to look at downtown. Rhiannon Adkins is a 16-year-old Beaver resident, she said her favorite part of the job is painting.

“We painted the fence down at Wildwood, we’ve painted that mural up in town, we’ve cleared up some of the trails at the Youth Museum, stuff like that,” said Adkins.

Baker said the youth group is able to do a lot of projects that public works can not get to. They were at Black Knight Municipal Park June 24 building a new fence.

The Appalachian Conservation Corps. is based in multiple states including Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Charnetta Hensley is the leader for the Beckley youth group and said she hopes to expand more into the Mountain State.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to bring the skills I’ve picked up and the things I’m passionate about back to my home state and be able to spread a little bit of that here too,” said Hensley.

For some of the workers, helping out around Beckley is more than just a summer job, it’s a chance to get closer to the community.

“I’ve gotten to see a lot of things that I wouldn’t have seen had I not had this opportunity,” said 17-year-old Oak Hill resident John Higginbotham.

Appalachian Conservation Corps has a second session July 12 – Aug. 12. Find out how to apply here.

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