Local youth spearhead renovation project for Sunset Middle School

April 12, 2021 /

Transitional Youth Mobilizing for Change (TYM4Change) invites the public to join in the journey of renovating the playground at Sunset Middle School in Weedpatch.  

After youth involved with the local nonprofit learned the school did not have sports equipment for children to play with at recess, shaded seating on the playground, uneven turf, and much more, they decided to take action.

“In fall 2019, with the help of Starbucks, we conducted a ball drive that provided over 100 basketballs, volleyballs, and footballs to the campus,” said Dixie King, Executive Director. “That was just the beginning. Our youth began approaching local companies for additional help. Just before the COVID-19 shutdown, DeWalt Corporation provided an in-kind donation of drone mapping to prepare the way for a full-scale renovation of the campus.”

The Vineland School District serves more than 700 students, which many are children of farmworkers who are seasonally employed.

“The school here is one of the most under-resourced in Kern County,” said 20-year-old Nic Hulsey, a TYM4Change youth researcher. “The cafeteria at Sunset Middle School has no air conditioning; they rely on swamp coolers. There is no shaded seating on the school grounds where kids can eat lunch. There are no designated game areas. This just isn’t okay. All kids deserve the basics.”

For some of the youth involved with TYM4Change, the project hits close to home.

“I grew up in a low-income family here in Kern County,” said 21-year-old Stephanie Contreras, who works closely with Hulsey on the Sunset Project. “I know what it’s like to lack the things that most people take for granted. We can make a difference here, and we will.”

TYM4Change youth are eager to talk about their short- and long-term plans for Sunset School and have secured a commitment from Design Concepts in Boulder, Colorado to provide a master plan for the renovation of the campus.

However, the youth need help from the public to fulfill their mission to make a difference.

“We are looking for corporate sponsors to help with each phase of the project,” said Rachel Sanders, the youth team leader for the project. “Kern County is generous, and we know that local businesses and individuals will contribute what they can to giving the Sunset kids a campus they can be proud of.”

Donations can be made through Give Big Kern or directly through the TYM4Change website at https://tym4change.org between April 9 and May 4, 2021.  For more information, to make donations, or to volunteer, contact King at execdirector@tym4change.org or call 661-619-6166.

About TYM4Change: The mission of TYM4Change is to empower transition-age youth (16-24) to achieve their full potential and become positive agents of change in their communities through research, learning, and action. Once they’ve identified a problem in a local school or neighborhood, TYM4Change youth conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups to find out what people want and need. They use their skills in communication, public speaking, and documentary filmmaking to create positive change through partnerships with local businesses and organizations.