PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 60 teens participated in a summer litter patrol in Peoria, where they developed job and leadership skills while filling yellow bags of trash.

First District Councilwoman Denise Jackson leads the program through Southside Community United for Change, a neighborhood organization seeking to improve the quality of life in Peoria’s Southside.

For six weeks, the litter patrol picked up trash around the Southside for two hours on Mondays and Wednesdays and one hour on Friday. The second Friday hour was dedicated to a financial literacy course at Busey Bank.

Jackson said the litter patrol is much more than picking up trash.

“They’re building on their leadership skills. They’re learning how to work with different individuals, people they don’t know, building friendships, learning how to take the initiative and lead when they are in a different group,” she said.

Litter patrol participant Frank Flowers, 13, said it feels good to make a difference in the community.

“I joined this program to get summer money and to connect with people on good terms, and meet new people and discover the working field… Picking up trash, helping the Southside community center and just doing good for the city,” he said.

Jackson said the teens were also introduced to the programs offered by the Tri-County Urban League, and hopes they take advantage.

“It’s been exciting. I’ve grown to love each and every one of them. We’ve had a wonderful time together,” she said.