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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indy Parks Department and Teenworks partnered together for the first time this year to put teens to work and clean up 15 area parks.

“With the skills and the knowledge that these young people, these young workers, these young employees have gained throughout the summer, they now know that it takes to be life long stewards of their community,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said at a press conference Tuesday.

Hogsett and other city leaders gathered Tuesday morning to thank and acknowledge the work and experiences the kids gained over the summer.

“Being able to give the teens opportunities to revitalize parks in their neighborhoods has been really special and it also gives them a sense of ownership,” Indy Parks’ Senior Manager of Community Partnerships Dominic Cornett said. “It also kept the teens busy during the summer months as well.”

Teenworks has been helping to provide jobs to kids in Indianapolis for 36 years and this year employed nearly 400 youth.

About 50 of them worked on cleaning 15 Indy parks including Christian Park, Clayton & LaSalle Park, Willard Park, Highland Park, Lentz Park, and Haughville Park.

The high school students, including Indianapolis Metropolitan High School senior Jalente Gipson, got paid to mulch, paint and pick up trash at the parks.

“Now when I go play basketball I’m like, ‘I did this. It looks better now,'” Gipson said. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot. Mainly because when I thought of things my mindset was just so low and I’d just quit, but working with Teenworks and Indy Parks made me want to do more for the city.”

In addition to this parks partnership, Teenworks is offering its students year-round employment with some of the participating businesses for the first time in 2017.