Last modified: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:39 PM EDT
Lynn native works with youth at summer camp
By Laura Paine/The Daily ItemLYNN - Lynn native Justin McCarthy is paying itforward.He is working with youth from inner cities around thecountry to provide them with the same opportunity hehad to better his future through the arts and education.McCarthy, a 22-year-old junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is a camper-gone-counselor atCamp Summer Stars in Northfield, Mass., whereeducators who double as counselors taught him theimportance of education.“There was a lot of mentoring and there were peoplethat actually cared about kids and kids’ futures,”McCarthy said. “I was in a (breakdancing) program atSalem Access TV. They approached me about it andasked if I wanted to go to the camp to get me out of thehouse in the summer. I ended up going with one of myfriends and it ended up being one of the best experiencesof my life.”He said he never saw college as an option until he went to the camp. It is geared toward teaching theimportance of education and performing arts to economically disadvantaged students, primarily fromurban settings, who may never have stepped foot outside the city, let alone experienced a camp setting.“I wanted to help kids like me that never saw college as an option for the future - kids that don’t havethe opportunity to graduate from high school, or plan to just get a job after high school,” McCarthysaid. “I wanted to instill the things in them that were instilled in me.”He said some kids do not have the opportunity to really experience the creative process, and art is away to “bring out the creative side of a kid.”“Kids who grow up in tough neighborhoods don’t get to express themselves the way they want to,”McCarthy said. “You have kids in middle school who don’t want to bring backpacks to school becausethey look like a nerd. Making kids realize that to do this, they need an education, and they tie together so well.”McCarthy, who graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 2006, is majoring in African-AmericanStudies.“My goal is to apply to the PhD program as of next year, and my hope is to be a professor of African-American history with a focus on hip-hop culture,” he said. “It stems from the camp. Lynn native Justin McCarthy, a campcounselor at Camp Summer Stars in Northfield.