NEARI Jump-Start is an intense, community-based after-school program primarily serving low-income Latino adolescents in Holyoke. These teens are at high risk for school failure, substance abuse, gang and criminal involvement, HIV and other illnesses, and early pregnancy. Jump-Start is designed to reach them before their behaviors escalate, providing them with a wide, holistic range of individualized and group services and opportunities.
NEARI’s long-term, relationship-based model crafts a steady web of supports and permanent links that serve as a net for these ‘at-risk’ youth and help “Jump-start” them back into creative, productive lives. Although the program’s primary focus is on the individual teens, Jump-Start operates a safe-haven-like activity center that has developed into a vibrant little community with a nurturing, playful culture of its own. For many of our teen members, this community, permeated with close peer and adult relationships, is an important part of their lives. In addition, the Jump-Start activity center is well staffed, has an abundance of resources and activity options, and immerses the youth in a sophisticated intervention milieu involving accountability, self-reflection, insight and articulation.