PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — 12 Peoria High School students will be able to learn about local government and explore career paths through Mayor Jim Ardis’s youth program that launched Monday, July 13.

Peoria Public Works Department spokesperson Alex Williams said due to concerns about public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program had to start later than expected. It is also condensed, meaning just 12 students participate, all of which will practice social distancing and wearing face masks.

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) helped secure a “Member Initiative” grant for the program from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

“Opportunities such as this allow our young people to engage with local leaders and create positive change within their community,” Koehler said.

“It’s critical to continue creating chances for young people to learn new skills when so many of them have seen career development opportunities disappear. I’m proud to have worked to secure the necessary funding to ensure the continuation of this vital program.”

The program connects students to public service careers and guides them through work-related activities Monday-Thursday. Students will also be able to join presentations from consulting firms, public servants, skilled trade workers, and vendors every Friday.

Mayor Ardis said the program will help those students develop work experience in a team environment.

“The program provides an outstanding opportunity for our future leaders to learn more about what our city does and hopefully encourages them to consider a future career in government,” Ardis said.

The program lasts four weeks and will close with a ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 13.

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