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Community News: Southwest

WINDSOR PARK : Helping Others Is Their First Step

August 29, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

For Marva Redd, it was the summer of love. The tall, reserved Fremont High School senior said counseling blind children and those with multiple handicaps at a seaside camp tapped into something she didn't know she had.

"I really enjoyed being able to help people help themselves," said Redd, 17. "It made me feel a lot better about myself."

Redd is one of 22 teen-agers who participated this summer in First Steps, a youth employment program sponsored by the city and the Foundation for the Junior Blind. The six-week program, which ended last week with a staff basketball game and awards ceremony, assigned participants the usual summer-job fare of maintenance, food service and secretarial work.

But the teen-agers also got the chance to work with the severely handicapped children and young adults the foundation serves at its Windsor Hills site and its summer camp in Malibu. In addition to helping cook and clean, participants worked as camp counselors and assistants in special education and residential programs.

"I got a basic idea of problem-solving procedures (while) helping people out," said Camille Henderson, 16, who aspires to be a psychologist and physical therapist. "I liked being the person they could come to."

Program participants were referred from several agencies and organizations, including Youth Gang Services, the Urban League and the county Probation Department. Program coordinator Lisa Shavers said participants were also treated to a weekly speakers bureau program that featured local professionals from a variety of fields discussing career options and development.

The First Steps program, which is in its second year, will be extended into the fall with an after-school employment program at the foundation's Windsor Hills site, said social services director Marie Johnson. Eight students from Crenshaw, Dorsey and Manual Arts high schools will be selected to work as well as receive tutoring in their schoolwork if necessary.

"We just want to keep the kids going," Johnson said.

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