How soon should children be taught how to be responsible with their money so that they do not repeat the financial mistakes of previous generations?
“It’s never too early,” said Andrea Harrell, director of youth initiatives for the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads in Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach. “The YCC teaches people ages 14 to 24 because this is the age group that watched their parents during the recession.”
Some Hampton Roads students are learning to take baby steps toward financial literacy a decade earlier. SunTrust Bank employees recently worked with Chesapeake Bay Academy kindergartners.
Culture shock! That’s exactly how sisters Aster and Betelhem Kebede felt when they moved to America from Ethiopia a few years ago. They did not speak a word of English and they were afraid they would not make any friends. According to them, they wanted to be “normal teenagers” who did well in school, had jobs and enjoyed time with friends. After discovering the Youth Career Center of Hampton Roads, they found the answer to most of their challenges.
“The Center is just a great place to relax, do homework, be with friends and get help with the job search,” said 19-year-old Aster, a senior at Princess Anne High School. After a career coach told Aster about a career fair for a new Kroger store opening, she visited the Center each day for resume, interview and self-presentation assistance. Within two weeks, Aster landed a position with Kroger Marketplace.
After that experience, Aster urged her younger sister Betelhem to visit the Center. Within a few months of working with the Center’s career coaches on her job search plan, Betelhem landed positions with Bath & Body Works and Destination Maternity. Recently, Betelhem was also accepted into all four colleges she applied to including a sizable scholarship from Virginia Wesleyan College.
“The staff really helped me with writing my college essays since I was struggling with putting my thoughts on paper,” said Betelhem. “They also offered to help me figure out what school is best for me by planning out a detailed budget of how much each school will cost.”
Career Coach Jaedda Hall said, “This is a perfect example of how youth can come into the Center to accomplish one goal and end up accomplishing more than they expected. The sky is the limit.”