Pulaski County youths should never say they have nothing to do. If they are bored, or need a fun and educational activity to fill their days with positive activities, they can call on Pulaski County Youth Services.

According to PCYS spokeswoman Susej Thompson, the agency has a variety of educational, fun-filled fall programs and special events for youth, ages six to eighteen.

"This year’s line-up includes the Youth Leadership Institute for ninth and tenth grade students, The ACT Prep Program for 10th through 12th grade students, and the Lead and Seed Drug Prevention and Leadership Program for sixth through eight grade students," Thompson said. "The Our Club afterschool programs will continue to meet after school this fall at seven sites throughout Pulaski County. The basic requirements for all programs are that students are in the age group specified and live in Pulaski County."

All PCYS programs are free-of-charge. PCYS encourages parents to keep their children involved and active during the after-school hours and continue to build skills that will ensure a successful future.

"These experiences not only give young people a safe and enriching environment, but also enhance their lives and better prepare them for healthy futures," states Charles Mobley, Director of Youth Services.

PCYS works to establish and strengthen the countywide effort of mobilizing resources necessary to improve the quality of educational opportunities for youth in Pulaski County, according to Mobley. The program is made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, he added.

PCYS has an 18-year history of managing and providing quality youth development programs to prepare youth to live healthy and productive lives, he said.

PCYS funds the programs through grants from local, state, and federal government as well as through private foundations and donations. In addition to serving as the fiduciary agent for each program, PCYS provides administrative support, technical assistance and oversight and monitoring of all programs, said Mobley.

Below is a list of the programs offered by PCYS:

Our Club programs are open to youth ages 6-18 and are designed to provide each young person with a safe environment to spend the most vulnerable time of the day—the afterschool hours. "Most Our Clubs operate during the summer months as well," according to Mobley. Activities focus on education, cultural enrichment, community service and health and physical fitness. During the past five years, 1,542 youth have participated.

Our ACT Prep Program provides college-bound students with the keys to success for achieving their maximum score on the ACT exam. For fall 2011 participants, the average composite ACT score increased 3 points, from 17 to 20. As a result, many of these youth are not be required to take remedial courses, thus encouraging them to stay in college and complete their degree. More than 1,500 students have participated in the program over the past six years.

Youthonomics is a summer camp designed to introduce youth to financial literacy. Youths have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers from the financial services career field who encourage them to learn basic financial literacy skills.

"The youths continue to develop their financial literacy skills through a curriculum that provides them with hands-on learning combined with real-world application," Mobley said.

The Our Club Music Program is a six-week summer program that gives middle school students free instruments and quality music instruction from local band and choral instructors. The program culminates with a concert where students showcase their newly-learned skills for friends and family.

Public Service Internship Program (PSIP) is a six-week summer internship for 11th and 12th grade students. The purpose of the program is to provide youth with opportunities to expand their knowledge, skills, and abilities while developing job skills and introducing them to a potential career within the public service, non-profit, or government sector. Through this program, high school students learn valuable lessons about leadership, community service, and how to work effectively with individuals and organizations to help build healthy and strong communities.

Our Youth Leadership Institute helps youth develop leadership skills, practice life skills and prepare themselves for the workforce through a combination of curriculum and experiential learning opportunities. The program is open to ninth and tenth grade students. This program runs from September to May each year.

SPORK is an experiential learning program that teaches middle school students and their families about nutrition and healthy eating habits. Youth attend afterschool sessions where they learn about nutrition as well as how to cook simple, healthy snacks and meals. Nutrition workshops educate parents about the importance of making nutritious food purchases and encourage them to have their youth assist with preparing meals and snacks.

"The overall goal of the program is to prevent obesity. In 2012, a fitness component facilitated by the YMCA was added to the SPORK program," he said.

To obtain applications or get more information on locations, dates, times, and application deadlines, call 501-340-8250 or visit pulaskicountyyouthservices.org.