Kids who participate in the Miles City Developmental Educational Assistance Program’s summer activities will see their vacation begin a little early this weekend as part of Global Youth Service Day.
“Global Youth Service Day, April 11-13, is the world’s largest service event, and the only one dedicated to recognizing the contributions that young people make to their communities every day of the year,” said DEAP’s Sylvia Danforth. “Through support from Youth Serve America and State Farm, the Governor’s Office of Community Service provided mini-grants that help to fund 15 youth-led projects throughout Montana. DEAP’s youth project is the community garden clean-up day, focusing on youth with disabilities in collaboration with the Miles City Community Garden.”
Kids and family members will be spending Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to noon tending the entire community garden, getting ready for the planting of produce. Though this is the first year the DEAP kids are working with the garden on GYSD, they’re no strangers to gardening.
“The kids who participate in our summer program have been out to the community garden in the past, weeding and picking produce,” said DEAP’s Kim Beaner. “We’re hoping to have 20-25 kids this Saturday helping out.”
On tap for the day is weed pulling, rototilling (depending on how wet the ground is) and pizza for lunch at noon at Holy Rosary Healthcare. Cyndie Hanvold said the program teaches kids the value of teamwork, as well as giving them a feeling of accomplishment when their work comes to fruition.
“They get so excited when they grow their own produce, and are able to make salads and tacos and stuff with it later,” she said. “Knowing that they’ve grown the produce builds their confidence and sense of self-worth. It also helps with socialization; they learn to work together as a team.”
Much of the produce grown by the kids in DEAP’s summer program is donated to various organizations, such as the Miles City Soup Kitchen and the Custer County Food Bank. Beaner said the group is also hoping to participate in the Farmer’s Market this year, giving the kids a chance to work on different skills.
“This weekend’s event is definitely the kickoff for our program, and we’ll probably plant in May,” Beaner said. “The families have been really involved in the garden as well. We’ve had family members come out and plant the garden with the kids, as well as donating seed and different gardening equipment and supplies for us. They have a lot of fun.”
Beaner said the public is invited to come out and participate in the event on Saturday.
“We invite the youths of the community and residents to join us in support of Global Youth Day,” she said. “I hope it’s a nice day, but if nothing else, we’ll eat pizza; pizza always makes things better.”