New and expanded youth programs and services outlined

Newsroom | 11/28/2014, midnight

Teen learning labs and a Memphis Youth City Council are among the new and expanded programs touted on Tuesday by Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and the City’s Office of Youth Services .

“We share a responsibility to encourage our youth through the delivery of constructive, highly accessible opportunities, both within our schools and through recreational activities and personal growth services,” said Wharton. “But broad participation, belief in our children’s potential and the celebration of their successes are keys to creating a flourishing community, one that improves the quality of life for all of us.”

The City has conducted and currently maintains 24 youth-focused programs and events. Now one central office, the Office of Youth Services, will help coordinate the expansion of existing programs that have proven to be most effective and the implementation of new ones meant to fill in the gaps.

The new programs are: the Memphis Youth City Council, Parenting Centers, Summer Residential Program, Teen Learning Labs, the Work Program Center on Community Improvement, and the 4 YOUTH Task Force.

The Memphis Youth City Council would be composed of a group of diverse high school students, each representing a different City Council district and various schools. Council membership would rotate annually.

“This council would operate as an advisory commission to my office and the Memphis City Council regarding youth issues, affording our young citizens opportunities to directly provide input on issues that affect them, and even to propose legislation,” Wharton said. “For us to support their growth and transformation into productive adult citizens of this city, we must offer our youth a seat at the table.”

All programs – new and expanded – are designed to provide opportunities for Memphis youth in the following key areas:

  • Development: to prepare them for success in careers and life;

  • Health and Wellness: to help keep them active, fit and healthy;

  • Intervention and Prevention: to connect with young people where they are, promote good decision making and for a few who are most at-risk, intervene when necessary; and

  • Law enforcement: building trust between young people and police, and when necessary, using proactive law enforcement strategies to keep neighborhoods safe.

“The mayor’s goals demonstrate an earnest investment in our youth that we believe will translate into improved chances for cultivating productive citizens,” said James Nelson, Director of the City's Office of Youth Services.

“We’re offering continued and improved access to programs whose goals include increased literacy, job skills development, and the establishment of positive relationships with authority figures. Our office is honored to lead the charge in seeing these ambitious but attainable goals to fruition.”

Here is a list of the expanded programs:

  • 901 Bloc Squad.

  • Community Center Program.

  • LIFE Literacy Program.

  • Memphis Ambassador Program.

  • Memphis Gun Down Program.

  • Summer Night Lights and Midnight Basketball Programs.

  • WIN Summer Jobs Program.

(For more information, visit