The City of Peoria is hiring 15 teenagers from the poorest areas of town to mow vacant lots through the new Youth Employment Lawn Care Program. The initiative targets at-risk kids between the ages of 16 and 19 from the East Bluff and South Side.
Public Works Director Michael Rogers says the program will teach kids the basics of operating a small business.
"We hear about young people, all the time, that may not see hope or have opportunity," Rogers said. "What we're doing is getting at-risk teens involved and learning something that is very tangible."
City Councilwoman Denise Moore says the program may also help put a dent in poverty. She says the unemployment rate in the South Side, which she represents, is up around 30%.
"This is giving individuals in the community an opportunity to not only take pride in their community, but to be a part of raising it up while earning some money at the same time," Moore said.
City officials say this kind of program is the most effective way to keep at-risk teens out of the juvenile justice system. Training begins June 3. Participants will be cutting grass on lots in the East Bluff and South Side from June 6 to September 3.