United Returning Citizens teaches kids landscaping and more

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – United Returning Citizens continues its commitment to teaching children about lawn care.

URC Lawn Care teaches teens 13 and older the basics of landscaping and how to use equipment such as lawnmowers and weeders. They start after the children leave school for the summer and work five days a week. They are also paid for their work.

“Three days they’re going to be out in the field doing this, and two days they’re going to be here realizing themselves,” said Dionne Dowdy, executive director of United Returning Citizens.

In addition to lawn care training, teens will learn about character, self-esteem, financial literacy and more. Dowdy said the program is meant to be a mentorship for kids.

The kids will be cutting grass primarily along Hillman Street on the south side. Dowdy says one of the hopes is that the children will take pride in keeping up with the area and beautifying it, and hopefully encourage others to do the same.

“We want them to be proud of something they’ve done. They’ve seen it from start to finish and know they can accomplish anything and give themselves confidence in what they’re doing. When you walk down the street and see a well cut grass, it makes you smile,” she said.

This is the second year of the program. They did it for a year, then took a break during the pandemic. But she says when the program was launched, they saw a difference in the children involved.

“They learned how to load the equipment onto the trailer, unload it, look after them down to the gas, if something was wrong they could figure it out. It was a nice change over the summer,” said Rodney Johnson, one of the instructors.

Johnson said the program teaches kids responsibility, and they can also use the skills they learn and maybe open their own business one day.

Dowdy said anyone who wants to join can do so, but they have a limit on how many children they can bring.

Anyone interested in learning more about this can contact United Returning Citizens at (330) 406-0827.

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