Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) has been the “guiding light” for citywide collaboration, supporting an improved relationship between the Rochester School District (RSD) and the City of Rochester. The Rochester Recreation Department (RRD) is a key partner in this collaboration, which directly supports Rochester youth with new programing and access to key relationships. These connections offer validation to the RRD for their critical role in the life of the city.
“Each summer, RRD engages 200 Rochester youth in camp, and forty percent of them receive financial aid.
If it were not for this program, we don’t know how these children would spend their summer.”
Assistant Director at Rochester Recreation Department
Beginning in 2015, the RSD, RRD, and the Rochester police collaborated to establish a summer teen travel camp. Open to all Rochester teens (ages 13-16); the camp features weekly trips to state parks and other New Hampshire destinations. The goals are to get teens out into nature, and to support them to perceive adults—police among them—as friends, mentors, and models and to pause to consider their life choices. Camp provides opportunities for kids to try new things and to recognize each other as people of value.
After the teen travel camp wrapped up last summer, one of the campers, a disconnected Rochester teen, came to the RRD to ask for help finding information on driving school. “We were able to point him in the right direction. It is a small thing, but he made that connection through camp,” reports the RRD Assistant Director. Recognizing these “small things” as critical is another significant outcome of the SS/HS grant.
Through this collaboration, RRD has solidified its reputation as a critical resource and collaborator when community leaders consider options for at-risk youth. “We constantly interact with kids and families and recognize the importance of our ‘boots on the ground’ contact,” reports the Assistant Director. The RRD staff has the platform and the motivation to continue creative collaboration with the district and city on behalf of Rochester’s kids. SS/HS’s new city-wide focus is prevention programming: “How to talk to kids and support community dialog on current issues, which fits in with the police goal of focusing on prevention, not reaction,” reports a participant. In Rochester, SS/HS is recognized for providing crucial support for infrastructure and bringing partners to the table.