Growing up, giving back

August 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm
Luke Roberts '16 (from right) works with Fabienne Douyon and Adrianna Brown, both fifth-graders at Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge, as part of PBHA's Cambridge Youth Enrichment Program. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

In the first 10 minutes of watching Javion Rookard in action, the 19-year-old director of the Cambridge Youth Enrichment Program (CYEP) took two phone calls, answered a text, helped soothe an upset child in need of a Band-Aid, finished cleaning the cafeteria after lunch, and directed a group where it needed to go. And he did it all with a smile.

“I’ve always wanted to be director … Being director really means you can do anything. It means you have to do anything,” Rookard said. “I’m the lunch guy, the teacher, the trainer, the manager, the fundraiser. It teaches you to wear so many hats and be able to juggle multiple things at once … This job is never over. I don’t go home at 5 p.m. My phone never stops buzzing. It’s crazy, but I absolutely love it.”

With more than 160 children at three sites across Cambridge, the enrichment program is the oldest and largest of Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association’s (PBHA) 10 student-run camps.

The operations, officially called Summer Urban Program (SUP) camps, serve more than 900 low-income, at-risk youth, ages 6 to 18, around Greater Boston.

Read the full article in the Harvard Gazette.