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New youth program launched for kids at Harbison Gardens

Through community collaboration, children in the Harbison Gardens community will have the chance to participate in a new, enriching program.

IRMO, S.C. — A new youth zone program is rolling out in the Harbison area of Columbia. 

In partnership with the Town of Irmo, former Chapin High School principal Dr. Akil Ross, Rev. Alonzo Johnson of Universal Outreach Church, Harbison Community Association and Harbison Garden Apartments, the Youth Zone Program will accommodate to children in the area for after-school enrichment. 

“You’ve got Dr. Ross coming up with this innovative program to get kids from this complex [Harbison Gardens], actually acclimated into after-school enrichment and you’ve got Dr. Alonzo Johnson who’s putting together an enrichment program at his church we put those two together and it was like magic. It was the ‘Irmo Youth Zone,'" says Irmo Mayor Barry Walker. 

Children in the Harbison area and, soon, other areas of town will have a program to empower academic, athletic and artistic opportunities as opposed to getting into trouble.

“This program is innovative, it is the first of its kind in the area," Mayor Walker says. And because Harbison Gardens is technically outside of the town of Irmo, he and Irmo Town Council worked with the City of Columbia, Columbia Police Department and others to make this happen. 

There are currently 18 children already involved with room for 80. 

Ken Loveless, Lexington Richland Five board member and his wife Jandy donated $10,000 towards the program and Harbison Community Center provided a bus to transport the children. 

Dr. Ross says, "the stronger the community, the stronger the schools, the stronger the child. So I thank you for coming out to support as we make strong children in Irmo, SC.”

To learn more about the program, visit this website.