Tag Archives: program

“Career Success: Youth Mentorship and Career Guidance Program” (PHOTO)

In December 2020, Junior Achievement Azerbaijan in partnership with MOL Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Education launched the “Career Success: Youth Mentorship and Career Guidance” program. It was a mentorship and work readiness program that focuses on helping youth to develop employability skills and prepare them for the world of work. The overall goal of the program was to support young people in development of professional and business skills and cultivate the future business leaders’ character, creativity and leadership through mentorship.

Due to the pandemic situation the project was implemented online engaging more than thousand young people at age 13-25, across all over Azerbaijan. Youth living not only in the regions along the BTC line including Garadagh, Absheron, Hajigabul, Agsu, Kurdamir, Yevlax, Aghdash, Shamkir, Tovuz, Gazakh, and but also other regions such as Guba, Khachmaz, Lankaran, Gakh and Gabala showed high interest in the program. The eight months long program was a great opportunity, particularly for the young people living in rural areas.

The program was designed and delivered based on the age group of the participants. Tailor Made training programs have been offered to the secondary school children and university students separately. Training sessions and mentor meetings organized during the program aimed to help participants to estimate their strengths and weaknesses, to determine their interests, to understand the world of work and to improve personal skills needed to achieve career and lifelong learning success. Through the online workshops they were introduced to the fundamental business and economic concepts, explored career interests and opportunities, and developed work-readiness skills.

The program closing and award ceremony held on July 16, 2021. Project participants, trainers and mentors attended the event with greater enthusiasm. Mr. Bakhtiyar Akhundov, country manager at MOL Azerbaijan, underlined the value of the program for the career planning and development of youth as future professionals. This project opened and showed different perspectives and opportunities for the participants.

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This post originally posted here Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

Texas judge’s ruling blocks new applications to the Obama-era program, which shields some undocumented immigrants from deportation

The ruling from Judge Andrew Hanen would bar future applications. It does not immediately cancel current permits for hundreds of thousands of people — though it once again leaves them in devastating legal limbo and is a reminder of the uncertainty they face.
DACA, created in 2012, was intended to provide temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children — a group often described as “Dreamers” — many of whom are now adults.
But almost a decade since the program was established, DACA is still one of the only signs of potential relief for undocumented immigrants looking to remain and work in the US.
Hanen, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that Congress had not granted the Department of Homeland Security the authority to create DACA and that it prevented immigration officials from enforcing removal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme,” Hanen wrote.
Congress remains the only body that can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients through legislation, but immigration legislation has been stalled for years.
Democrats immediately called for Congress to act.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, and his twin brother Julian Castro, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama, called the decision is “terrible.”
“The dreams of hundreds of thousands of young people who are contributing to the American economy will be put on hold for no good reason. Congress must pass a pathway to citizenship this year. We can’t wait,” Rep. Castro said on Twitter.
“Dreamers have lived in uncertainty for far too long. It’s time Congress give them the protections they deserve. We must pass the budget reconciliation bill,” Julián Castro said.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell said on Twitter, “This rightwing hack judge in Texas is trying to unilaterally stop the DACA program. This decision must be appealed and tossed out.”
The White House, Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Long legal fight

Hanen’s shocking Friday afternoon ruling is the latest dramatic twist in the nearly decade-old DACA program.
The Trump administration tried ending DACA in 2017, but the US Supreme Court blocked its attempt in June 2020.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the Trump administration then tried to say no new DACA applications would be accepted and renewals would be limited to one year instead of two amid an ongoing review. A separate federal judge rejected that and ordered the restoration of the program.
The lawsuit was originally brought by Texas — along with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia — which argued that the program placed an undue burden on the states and amounted to executive overreach. Hanen heard oral arguments in the case in December.
In his ruling Friday, Hanen cited the earlier Supreme Court decision, pointing to the majority’s determination that courts have the authority to review the DACA memorandum. But Hanen also drew from a dissent written by Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, that said DACA was an “unlawful program.”
“Justice Thomas noted that the majority’s failure to address DACA’s creation was ‘an effort to avoid a politically controversially but legally correct decision’ that would result in future ‘battles to be fought in this Court,'” Hanen wrote. “While the controversial issue may ultimately return to the Supreme Court, the battle Justice Thomas predicted currently resides here and it is not one this Court can avoid.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.

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Kyrgyz defense minister meets with head of the OSCE Program Office in Bishkek

Defense Minister of Kyrgyzstan Taalaibek Omuraliev met with head of the OSCE Program Office in Bishkek Alexei Rogov to discuss topical issues and cooperation, Trend reports citing Kabar.

According to the press service of the Ministry of Defense, following the meeting, an agreement was signed between the Ministry of Defense of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the implementation of a regional project for the disposal of liquid rocket fuel components.

Read more here >>> Trend – News from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkey.

Program helps formerly incarcerated people graduate college

FRESNO, Calif. — A program in California is helping formerly incarcerated people change their lives and graduate from college.

“I’ve changed who I am and where I’m going. I don’t want to be the person that I was before, I don’t want to commit crimes… I want to be a contributing member to my society,” said Aaron Greene.

Greene went to jail for possession of meth, later going to prison for theft after he got out of jail. After a three-year stint, he decided he wanted to change his life. He eventually found Project Rebound.

“Project Rebound is a student-support services program at 14 of the 23 California State University campuses that helps formerly incarcerated individuals use higher education as tools to successfully matriculate back into the community,” said Jennifer Leahy, program director of the program at Fresno State.

“Every student has challenges on campus… but what is a speed bump for another student becomes a brick wall for someone who’s formerly incarcerated,” she said.

“Having this program behind me with them knowing my background and pushing me to succeed was definitely a positive,” said Daniel Gamez, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree.

There were four students in Project Rebound at Fresno State in 2016. This year, there were 40 registered students, and the group held a graduation party to celebrate those who earned their degrees, including Greene, who earned his master’s degree.

“There’s a change that comes along with education,” he said. “This program has shown me that I can be something different. That I’m not Aaron the thief, I’m Aaron the educated, I’m Aaron the academic, I’m Aaron the professor at Fresno State.”

“I’m a different person,” Greene said. “Please let me show you.”

To learn more about Project Rebound, click here.

Author: CCG

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

A Community-Based Mental Health Program Pivots During the Pandemic

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

For more than 70 years, Fountain House has offered a lifeline for people living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and other serious mental illnesses through a community-based model of care. When he took the helm less than 2 years ago, CEO and President Ashwin Vasan, ScM, MD, PhD, wanted a greater focus on crisis-based solutions and a wider, public health approach.

That goal was put to the test in 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 shuttered all in-person activities. The nonprofit quickly rebounded, creating a digital platform, engaging with its members through online courses, face-to-face check-ins, and delivery services, and expanding partnerships to connect with individuals facing homelessness and involved in the criminal justice system. Those activities not only brought the community together – it expanded Fountain House’s footprint.

Among its membership of more than 2,000 people in New York City, about 70% connected to the digital platform. “We also enrolled more than 200 brand new members during the pandemic who had never set foot in the physical mental health “clubhouse.” They derived value as well,” Vasan said in an interview. Nationally, the program is replicated at more than 200 locations and serves about 60,000 people in almost 40 states. During the pandemic, Fountain House began formalizing affiliation opportunities with this network.

Now that the pandemic is showing signs of receding, Fountain House faces new challenges operating as a possible hybrid model. “More than three-quarters of our members say they want to continue to engage virtually as well as in person,” Vasan said. As of this writing, Fountain House is enjoying a soft reopening, slowly welcoming in-person activities. What this will look like in the coming weeks and months is a work in progress, he added. “We don’t know yet how people are going to prefer to engage.”

A Role in the Public Policy Conversation

Founded by a small group of former psychiatric patients in the late 1940s, Fountain House has since expanded from a single building in New York City to more than 300 replications in the United States and around the world. It originated the “clubhouse” model of mental health support: a community-based approach that helps members improve health, and break social and economic isolation by reclaiming social, educational, and work skills, and connecting with core services, including supportive housing and community-based primary and behavioral health care (Arts Psychother. 2012 Feb 39[1]:25-30).

Serious mental illness (SMI) is growing more pronounced as a crisis, not just in the people it affects, “but in all of the attendant and preventable social and economic crises that intersect with it, whether it’s increasing health care costs, homelessness, or criminalization,” Vasan said.

After 73 years, Fountain House is just beginning to gain relevance as a tool to help solve these intersecting public policy crises, he added.

“We’ve demonstrated through evaluation data that it reduces hospitalization rates, health care costs, reliance on emergency departments, homelessness, and recidivism to the criminal justice system,” he said. Health care costs for members are more than 20% lower than for others with mental illness, and recidivism rates among those with a criminal history are less than 5%.

Others familiar with Fountain House say the model delivers on its charge to improve quality of life for people with SMI.

It’s a great referral source for people who are under good mental health control, whether it’s therapy or a combination of therapy and medications, Robert T. London, MD, a practicing psychiatrist in New York who is not affiliated with Fountain House but has referred patients to the organization over the years, said in an interview.

“They can work with staff, learn skills regarding potential work, housekeeping, [and] social skills,” he said. One of the biggest problems facing people with SMI is they’re very isolated, London continued. “When you’re in a facility like Fountain House, you’re not isolated. You’re with fellow members, a very helpful educated staff, and you’re going to do well.” If a member is having some issues and losing touch with reality and needs to find treatment, Fountain House will provide that support.

“If you don’t have a treating person, they’re going to find you one. They’re not against traditional medical/psychiatric care,” he said.

Among those with unstable or no housing, 99% find housing within a year of joining Fountain House. While it does provide people with SMI with support to find a roof over their heads, Fountain House doesn’t necessarily fit a model of “housing first,” Stephanie Le Melle, MD, MS, director of public psychiatry education at department of psychiatry at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, said in an interview.

“The housing first evidence-based model, as designed and implemented by Pathways to Housing program in New York in the early 90s, accepted people who were street homeless or in shelters, not involved in mental health treatment, and actively using substances into scatter-site apartments and wrapped services around them,” she said.

Le Melle, who is not affiliated with Fountain House, views it more as a supportive employment program that uses a recovery-oriented, community-based, jointly peer-run approach to engage members in vocational/educational programming. It also happens to have some supportive housing for its members, she added.

Vasan believes Fountain House could expand beyond a community model. The organization has been moving out from its history, evolving into a model that could be integrated as standard of care and standard of practice for community health, he said. Fountain House is part of Clubhouse International, an umbrella organization that received the American Psychiatric Association’s 2021 special presidential commendation award during its virtual annual meeting for the group’s use of “the evidence-based, cost-effective clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation as a leading recovery resource for people living with mental illness around the world.”

How Medication Issues Are Handled

Fountain House doesn’t directly provide medication to its members. According to Vasan, psychiatric care is just one component of recovery for serious mental illness.

“We talk about Fountain House as a main vortex in a triangle of recovery. You need health care, housing, and community. The part that’s been neglected the most is community intervention, the social infrastructure for people who are deeply isolated and marginalized,” he said. “We know that people who have that infrastructure, and are stably housed, are then more likely to engage in community-based psychiatry and primary care. And in turn, people who are in stable clinical care can more durably engage in the community programming Fountain House offers.”

Health care and clinical care are changing. It’s becoming more person-centered and community based. “We need to move with the times and we have, in the last 2 decades,” he said.

Historically, Fountain House has owned and operated its own clinic in New York City. More recently, it partnered with Sun River Health and Ryan Health, two large federally qualified health center networks in New York, so that members receive access to psychiatric and medical care. It has also expanded similar partnerships with Columbia University, New York University, and other health care systems to ensure its members have access to sustainable clinical care as a part of the community conditions and resources needed to recover and thrive.

Those familiar with the organization don’t see the absence of a medication program as a negative factor. If Fountain House doesn’t provide psychiatric medications, “that tells me the patients are under control and able to function in a community setting” that focuses on rehabilitation, London said.

It’s true that psychiatric medication treatment is an essential part of a patient’s recovery journey, Le Melle said. “Treatment with medications can be done in a recovery-oriented way. However, the Fountain House model has been designed to keep these separate, and this model works well for most” of the members.

As long as members and staff are willing to collaborate with treatment providers outside of the clubhouse, when necessary, this model of separation between work and treatment can work really well, she added.

“There are some people who need a more integrated system of care. There is no ‘one size fits all’ program that can meet everyone’s needs,” said Le Melle. The absence of onsite treatment at Fountain House, to some extent “adds to the milieu and allows people to focus on other aspects of their lives besides their illness.”

This hasn’t always been the case in traditionally funded behavioral health programs, she continued. Most mental health clinics, because of fiscal structures, reimbursement, and staffing costs, focus more on psychotherapy and medication management than on other aspects of peoples’ lives, such as their recovery goals.

The bottom line is rehabilitation in medicine works – whether it’s for a mental health disorder, broken leg, arm, or stroke, London said. “Fountain House’s focus is integrating a person into society by helping them to think differently and interact socially in groups and learn some skills.”

Through cognitive-behavioral therapies, a person with mental illness can learn how to act differently. “The brain is always in a growing process where you learn and develop new ideas, make connections,” London said. “New protein molecules get created and stored; changes occur with the neurotransmitters.”

Overall, the Fountain House model is great for supporting and engaging people with serious mental illness, Le Melle said. “It provides a literal place, a community, and a safe environment that helps people to embrace their recovery journey. It is also great at supporting people in their engagement with vocational training and employment.”

Ideally, she would like Fountain House to grow and become more inclusive by engaging people who live with both mental illness and substance use.

COVID-19 Changes the Rules

The most difficult challenge for health care and other institutions is to keep individuals with SMI engaged and visible so that they can find access to health care and benefits – and avoid acute hospitalization or medical care. “That’s our goal, to prevent the worst effects and respond accordingly,” Vasan said.

SARS-CoV-2 forced the program to reevaluate its daily operations so that it could maintain crucial connections with its members.

Vasan and his staff immediately closed the clubhouse when COVID-19 first hit, transitioning to direct community-based services that provided one-on-one outreach, and meal, medication, and clothing delivery. “Even if people couldn’t visit our clubhouse, we wanted them to feel that sense of community connection, even if it was to drop off meals at their doorstep,” he said.

Donning personal protective equipment, his staff and interested program participants went out into the communities to do this personal outreach. At the height of pandemic in New York City, “we weren’t sure what to do,” as far as keeping safe, he admitted. Nevertheless, he believes this outreach work was lifesaving in that it kept people connected to the clubhouse.

As Fountain House worked to maintain in-person contact, it also built a digital community to keep the live community together. This wasn’t just about posting on a Facebook page – it was interactive, Vasan noted. An online group made masks for the community and sold them for people outside of Fountain House. Capacity building courses instructed members on writing resumes, looking for jobs, or filling out applications.

There’s an assumption that people with SMI lack the skills to navigate technology. Some of the hallmarks of SMI are demotivation and lack of confidence, and logging onto platforms and email can be challenging for some people, he acknowledged. Over the last 18 months, Fountain House’s virtual clubhouse proved this theory wrong, Vasan said. “There are a great number of people with serious mental illness who have basic digital skills and are already using technology, or are very eager to learn,” he said.

For the subset of members who did get discouraged by the virtual platform, Fountain House responded by giving them one-on-one home support and digital literacy training to help them stay motivated and engaged.

Fountain House also expanded partnerships during the pandemic, working with programs such as the Fortune Society to bring people with SMI from the criminal justice system into Fountain House. “We’re doing this either virtually or through outdoor, public park programs with groups such as the Times Square Alliance and Fort Greene Park Conservancy to ensure we’re meeting people where they are, at a time of a rising health crisis,” Vasan said.

Moving on to a Hybrid Model

At the height of the pandemic, it was easy to engage members through creative programming. People were craving socialization. Now that people are getting vaccinated and interacting inside and outside, some understandable apathy is forming toward digital platforms, Vasan said.

“The onus is on us now to look at that data and to design something new that can keep people engaged in a hybrid model,” he added.

June 14, 2021, marked Fountain House’s soft opening. “This was a big day for us, to work through the kinks,” he said. At press time, the plan was to fully reopen the clubhouse in a few weeks – if transmission and case rates stay low.

It’s unclear at this point how many people will engage with Fountain House on a daily, in-person basis. Some people might want to come to the clubhouse just a few days a week and use the online platform on other days.

“We’re doing a series of experiments to really understand what different offerings we need to make. For example, perhaps we need to have 24-7 programming on the digital platform. That way, you could access it on demand,” said Vasan. The goal is to create a menu of choices for members so that it becomes flexible and meets their needs.

Long term, Vasan hopes the digital platform will become a scalable technology. “We want this to be used not just by Fountain House, but for programs and in markets that don’t have clubhouses.” Health systems or insurance companies would benefit from software like this because it addresses one of the most difficult aspects for this population: keeping them engaged and visible to their systems, Vasan added.

“I think the most important lesson here is we’re designing for a group of people that no one designs for. No one’s paying attention to people with serious mental illness. Nor have they ever, really. Fountain House has always been their advocate and partner. It’s great that we can do this with them, and for them.”

Vasan, also an epidemiologist, serves as assistant professor of clinical population, and family health and medicine, at Columbia University. London and Le Melle have no conflicts of interest.

Two Steps Back, Three Steps Forward

For some of its members, Fountain House provides more than just a sense of place. In an interview, longtime member and New York City native Rich Courage, 61, discussed his mental illness challenges and the role the organization played in reclaiming his life, leading to a new career as a counselor.

Question: What made you seek out Fountain House? Are you still a member?

Rich Courage: I’ve been a member since 2001. I was in a day program at Postgraduate, on West 36th Street. They had this huge theater program, and I was a part of that. But the program fell apart and I didn’t know what to do with myself. A friend of mine told me about Fountain House. I asked what it did, and the friend said that it puts people with mental health challenges back to life, to work, to school. I was making some art, some collages, and I heard they had an art gallery.

Seeing Fountain House, I was amazed. It was this very friendly, warm, cozy place. The staff was nice; the members were welcoming. The next thing you know it’s 2021, and here I am, a peer counselor at Fountain House. I work on “the warm line,” doing the evening shift. People call in who have crises, but a lot of them call in because they’re lonely and want someone to talk to. As a peer counselor, I don’t tell people what to do, but I do offer support. I encourage. I ask questions that enable them to figure out their own problems. And I tell stories anecdotally of people that I’ve known and about recovery.

I struggled with bad depression when I was in my 20s. My mother died, and I lost everything. Coming to Fountain House and being part of this community is unlike anything I’d ever experienced. People weren’t just sitting around and talking about their problems; they were doing something about it. They were going back to school, to work, to social engagements, and the world at large. And it wasn’t perfect or linear. It was two steps back, three steps forward.

That’s exactly what I was doing. I had a lot of self-esteem and confidence issues, and behavioral stuff. My mind was wired a certain way. I had hospitalizations; I was in psychiatric wards. I had a suicide attempt in 2006, which was nearly successful. I was feeling social, mental, and emotional pain for so long. The community has been invaluable for me. Hearing other people’s stories, being accepted, has been wonderful.

I’ve been down and now I’m up, on an upward trajectory.

Question: How else has Fountain House made a difference in your life?

RC: I’m in a Fountain House residence in a one-bedroom, and it’s the most stable housing I’ve ever had in 61 years. So I’ve gotten housing and I’ve gotten a job, which is all great, because it’s aided me in becoming a full human being. But it’s really eased my suffering and enabled me to feel some joy and have some life instead of this shadow existence that I had been living for 30 years.

Fountain House has different units, and I’ve been in the communications unit – we put out the weekly paper and handle all the mail. The unit has computers, and I was able to work on my writing. I wrote a play called “The Very Last Dance of Homeless Joe.” We’ve had staged readings at Fountain House, and 200 people have seen it over 2 years. We Zoomed it through the virtual community. It was very successful. A recording of the staged reading won third place at a festival in Florida.

In September, it will be an off-Broadway show. It’s a play about the homeless, but it’s not depressing; it’s very uplifting.

Question: Did you stay connected to Fountain House during the pandemic, either through the digital community or through services they provided? What was this experience like for you?

RC: Ashwin [Vasan] had been here 6 months, and he saw the pandemic coming. During a programming meeting he said, “We need a virtual community, and we need it now.” None of us knew what Zoom was, how the mute button worked. But it’s been wonderful for me. I’m a performer, so I was able to get on to Facebook every day and post a song. Some of it was spoofs about COVID; some were dedications to members. I ended up connecting with a member in Minnesota who used to be a neighbor of mine. We had lost contact, and we reconnected through Fountain House.

Question: What would you tell someone who might need this service?

RC: We’ve partially reopened the clubhouse. In July we’ll be doing tours again. I’d say, come take a tour and see the different social, economic, housing, and educational opportunities. We have a home and garden unit that decorates the place. We have a gym, a wellness unit. But these are just things. The real heart is the people.

As a unit leader recently told me, “We’re not a clinic. We’re not a revolving door. We forge relationships with members that last in our hearts and minds for a lifetime. Even if it’s not in my job description, if there’s anything in my power that I could do to help a member ease their suffering, I will do it.”

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

This pandemic jobs program may become a permanent part of Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A program launched to help Austinites find work during the pandemic is expanding.

The Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) is looking for a new crew that will focus on reducing wildfire risks this fall. It will be one of about a dozen projects that have kept people employed since the program’s launch last fall.

And now, the city council member behind ACCC doesn’t want to see the program end.

“Especially after a lot of the rain, the trails will grow over, so we’re coming through with loppers and clearing it out, making it easier for people to walk through,” explained Michael Dehay.

He’s the ACCC crew lead for the American Youthworks team, one of the community partners that manages the program.

Dehay seems to know a lot about conservation, but he’s only been in the field for about five months.

“I had been doing the print shop job for 10 years and kind of thought I’d be doing that for my life,” he said.

He lost his job in March during COVID-19 shutdowns. So did everyone else on this team.

“Never touched a chainsaw in my life before this job,” one of them said.

That’s when they found the ACCC — modeled off President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

The goal is to employ those hit by the pandemic through city projects and provide them with the training to be able to pursue a long-term job after the project wraps up, which can range from a few weeks to a few months.

More than 100 people have cleared trails, created artwork and even worked on construction projects in the City of Austin.

“It helps us to accomplish multiple city goals at once: we are providing the jobs, we are providing training and we are beautifying and improving our city,” said Alison Alter, city council member for District 10.

Alter, who created the program, said those jobs aren’t going away anytime soon, and the city needs a reliable, trained labor force.

She also said labor ends up being cheaper for the city than hiring contractors, since the projects are typically seasonal for different departments, and crews can be hard to find.

“If you can piece all of those together to create a crew that’s running all year round, it’s much, much cheaper than just trying to tackle sort of the one project at a time,” Alter said.

It’s why she’s trying to secure $ 5 million for the program for the next fiscal year.

“So that it can serve as a workforce hub and allow all the departments that have these projects that are climate, creative related to get those things done,” Alter said.

Currently, she said they have $ 1.9 million through the fiscal year. About $ 500,000 came from the general fund and the rest was reallocated from seven different department budgets.

So far, only about $ 850,000 has been committed for next year, but Alter hopes city council will make room in the budget as well as the American Rescue Plan funding, both of which are currently being discussed.

Dehay’s time with ACCC ends in October, but he plans to stay in his new line of work. He’s already applied to a conservation-related job with the city.

“I love it,” he said.

In April, Travis County commissioners voted to create a similar program, based off of Austin’s success.

The Civilian Conservation Corps will create jobs that will also benefit the environment.

Commissioners are in the process of developing a strategy for the program. The goal is to have that done by June 15th.

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

County leader pushes for program to waive youth sports fees in San Diego

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond submitted his proposal, which includes $ 10 million to waive fees for recreational youth sports.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond pitched an idea Wednesday to get pitchers back on the field. Desmond proposed a program to waive fees parents would pay to register their kids to play youth sports in the county. 

The Federal Government has allocated over $ 300 million to San Diego County, for recovery efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Desmond has submitted his proposal for American Rescue Plan Act funding, which includes $ 10 million to waive fees for recreational youth sports.

In other words, it would be free San Diego kids 18 and under to sign up for a sports league and play.

“COVID-19 has affected many San Diegans, especially kids who have been stuck in their home learning virtually and unable to play sports. As San Diego County recovers from the pandemic, many San Diegans are still struggling financially. Youth sports fees can cost hundreds of dollars per kid, which can put a strain on many families,” Desmond said.

Sports can add up, some sports like football can cost $ 400 for each kid. Keeping mind, the proposed $ 10 million would not cover personal sports expenses like shoes. 

Some local coaches said there are real athletic, academic, and social consequences if kids can’t afford to play sports.

This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

SDSU adapted athletics program helping challenged athletes

The program currently consists of just track and field and tennis but there are plans to expand to basketball, volleyball, rock climbing and water sports.

SAN DIEGO — The adapted athletics program at San Diego State is only in its 3rd year, but it is helping the challenged athletes pursue their dreams.
“That’s what the San Diego State adaptive sports program is all about,” sprints coach Isaac Jean Paul said. “Giving that opportunity for athletes with disabilities to compete at the highest level.” 
Sprinter Michelle Cross is in her 3rd year and was the program’s first student-athlete. Jean Paul says she has an excellent chance to qualify for the paralympics in Tokyo this summer. “Oh, man. The sky’s the limit,” Jean Paul said. “She can do everything and anything if she puts her mind to it.” 
“You are the only person to say what you can or can’t do,” Michelle said. “ You can’t listen to anyone else. I know if you put your mind to it, you can do it. Don’t sell yourself short.” 
Coach Jean Paul is still competing himself. He is visually impaired and holds a Paralympian world record, having cleared 7 feet in the high jump. Manuel Gomez played all kinds of sports until the age of 15 when he suffered a back injury. The surgery didn’t go as planned, and he lost the use of his legs. Gomez has been playing wheelchair tennis for just two years. His goal is to play at the national level.
“I’m very thankful to be part of the program,” Gomez said. “I didn’t want to play any sports after my injury. I didn’t want to do anything. Once you’re out there you meet people with the same disability, and think ‘hey, i’m not the only one here’.” 
The program currently consists of just track and field and tennis but there are plans to expand to basketball, volleyball, rock climbing and water sports. The program is not sanctioned by the NCAA and it is funded through the Associated Student Body.  
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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Austin tries new homeless healthcare program as it prepares to enforce camping ban

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As staff work on educating the homeless community about Proposition B, which reinstitutes a camping ban, and identifying locations for sanctioned encampments, they’re also rolling out a new program that focuses on behavioral health.

Bill Brice with the Downtown Austin Alliance explained how the “Healthcare for the Homeless” program works during Wednesday evening’s Downtown Commission meeting.

“It provides a direct line to behavioral health care for people who are downtown experiencing homelessness,” he said. 

Brice said the program, which launched Wednesday, is in partnership with the Alliance, Integral Care, Downtown Austin Community Court and the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST).

“The genesis of this came out of research that was funded by Downtown Austin Alliance several years ago that really put a thumbprint on the need for increased behavioral healthcare for people experiencing homelessness,” he said.

Brice said they then asked Integral Care to draft a program model. The first year of the program will cost $ 520,000, split between the Alliance and the City of Austin. Integral Care’s Terrace at Oak Springs Clinic will serve as the program’s service hub.

“The goal: to provide 100 to 150 per year, with housing-focused health care,” he told commission board members on Tuesday. A spokesperson tells KXAN they’ve already enrolled 13 people in the program.

Brice said this is a new model they’re piloting downtown, for now. He said based on nonprofit ECHO’s Point in Time Counts, a third of unsheltered individuals live downtown.

ECHO Point In Time homeless count from 2019.

“We think this is a program that might prove up a model that could be replicated into a broader geographic area once we’re able to test it,” he said.

KXAN’s Tahera Rahman will have more details on the new Healthcare for the Homeless program coming up on KXAN News at 5 p.m.

Author: Tahera Rahman
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin