A summer program to keep kids safe

By Caroline Goggin

July 23, 2014 Updated Jul 23, 2014 at 6:15 PM EST

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Broome County Promise Zone is working to make a difference in the community through its new summer camp.

The camp focuses on bringing out children’s inner creativity through music and art.

"Some of these kids are incredibly artistically-talented, but they don't have the outlet or the place to really expand those, especially during the summer," said director of the camp John Vassello.

Volunteers and leaders are mentoring and teaching kids, as well as pushing them to have fun.

This is helping local kids stay off the streets this summer.

The program is a collaborative effort between Binghamton University, Broome Tioga BOCES and the Broome County Mental Health Department.

However, it was an effort pushed by older kids who are using their past to help change other's futures.

"My life has been hard,” said group leader Tony Carr. “So the desire to help kids came from what I've experienced throughout my life."

Participants have been taught to use social media to document their time.

"They are going to have to utilize social media in whatever profession they are going into,” added Vassello. “This is just the day in age we live in. The hashtag for that is #JCPZ. They all are putting their tweets up in order to create a really cool news feed of all the cool things they are doing."

The program is not only offering the opportunity for kids activate their creative potential, but also providing a second home for some.

"Basically, it's like I come here every day and it's just like we're all family,” said group leader Jeffrey Rodriguez. “We all get along together and we're all good friends."

Volunteers said what separates this camp from others is that participants can gain experience at absolutely no cost.

The camp runs until Friday, August 15 at the Goodwill Theatre in Johnson City.

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