Department of Employment Services partners with community organization to help DC area youth

A new initiative with the Department of Employment Services (DOES) seeks to use music and mental health services to help D.C. youth retain employment.

Ronald Moten with Check It Enterprises says their organization is partnering with the Go-Go museum and DOES to put together Moving Mountains and Beating the Violence — a weeklong program from Dec. 14-19 that focuses on helping D.C. area youth ages 16-24 move forward after dealing with violence and trauma.

Moten says, “a lot of young people come and say they want a job and they are capable of working,” however even if they secure employment, they don’t necessarily respond to adversity in the workforce in a professional manner.

The new program focuses on youth struggling with trauma using music and mental health services to curb violence and help retain employment.

Moten says music “is a form of healing” and has always been used as an avenue to help keep at-risk D.C. youth out of the streets.

The organizer and activist said he’s also enlisted the help of mental health professional Dr. Sheryl Neverson, a licensed clinical Social Worker with more than 25 years of experience in behavioral health.

He said Neverson is able to “connect with young people in a way where they don’t feel like they have a disease or something is wrong with them.”

Moten said trauma is a part of everyone’s life, but people often have a network of support to help them move forward. He hopes the program will serve as the support system that some area youth need.

Even though the program has gone virtual, Moten said that hasn’t stopped the enthusiasm.

“Most children ask could the program go for longer than a week and it’s funny — sometimes it’s hard to get people to attend programs when they’re really not getting paid money,” he said.

DOES provides a $100 gift card for those who attend, and Check It Enterprises will also give out $30 food stipends.

Chase Bank has also signed on to help with financial literacy classes.

Moten said young people are so enthused, “because they learn so much about building their credit.”

It’s a skill that Moten values, as the organizer says he didn’t learn about the value of credit until he was 40 years old.

Moten said he wants to expand the program after the week, because parents of elementary and middle school students in addition to parents of high school students have reached out to him, asking him to bring the program to their schools.

“They know their children are going through so much trauma in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country right now, whether it’s from COVID or from the violence,” and he says his program helps young people deal with those real-world issues.

Moten said the pandemic taught him how to be creative.

The virtual program has also allowed his organization, Check It Enterprises, to reach a lot more young people. He said he wants to use the opportunity to reach even more area youth.

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