IYI’s Extended Evening Program (EEP) provides wholesome educational and recreational activities to IYI students between the high-risk hours of 3:00PM to 7:00 PM. EEP offers students Life Skills training, recreation and cultural enrichment activities, and opportunities to participate in various service learning events. EEP participation was extended beyond IYI enrollment by opening the evening program to youth from other organizations exceeding the targeted goal of 100 unduplicated youth annually.
EEP program participants are afforded recreational and cultural opportunities both within and outside of Trenton. Over the past year, students have traveled to Washington DC to visit the White House and the African American History Museum. Students also participated in service learning activities such as working at residential units for the elderly or disabled, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, recreation at the Hamilton YMCA, rehabbing the local Little league fields in partnership with the Trenton Thunder Organization, and community spoken words in partnership with Mill Hill Playhouse/Passage Theater, and community gardens. This past year, the EEP held classes in African drumming, music production, etiquette, cooking, and a 4 series workshop entitled “Image Is Power” hosted by Dr. Alex Ellis of Tied To Greatness. Most recently we established a partnership with NJ Probation Dept. assisting the youth with completing their community service hours. IYI is an approved site through probation for community service hours. EEP started a monthly program and coined it “Get it Done Day” where youth were taken to key government offices to get important documents such as birth certificates, identification, pay-off surcharges or fines, or take them to meet with their probation officer. This is designed to eliminate some barriers to getting their lives in order.
Since 2010, Isles Garden Support Network staff members have worked with IYI students to maintain the large vegetable garden in the lot adjacent to IYI. As many as eight to 10 IYI students participate each year in this initiative as part of the evening program schedule. IYI students are taught how to establish and grow a vegetable garden as well as how to grow fresh food for production. This past year, Isles staff brought the gardening lessons to the classroom by offering IYI students healthy cooking and nutrition classes. Additionally, EEP has scheduled regular cooking classes at the Rutgers Extension Center, 4H which incorporates these healthy eating lessons into real cooking practices.
The year’s most noteworthy volunteer effort was refurbishing the Westend Little League Field in partnership with The Trenton Thunder organization, and the city of Trenton Recreation Dept, with the support of Mayor Reed. Together we all made it a successful community effort, and was recognized with a video tribute before the start of a Trenton Thunder baseball game.