Revamped Program Teaches Financial Responsibility To Local Teens

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ASHVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – A newly revamped program is teaching teens across Chautauqua County the importance of financial responsibility, giving them first-hand experience in real world scenarios, like getting a job and mortgage. 

Hosted by the Chautauqua Safety Village, the ‘Taste of Independence’ program is bringing teens from all across our region to the Safety Village in Ashville, where they learn what it’s like to be an adult for a day.

“There have to be people willing to get involved and have people like Jim, and the people in these agencies. This takes a lot of work and there are kids in the community who need all our help, and I think we’re starting to move the need a little bit as far as folks like this coming aboard and starting to collaborate. Nobody can do it alone, we have to work together. It’s to benefit the best prize of all, which are kids,” said Owner of Collaborative Children’s Solutions, Patrick Smeraldo.

The teens participate in mock interviews, receive paychecks, set up a bank account, and even, buy a house.

“Fake debit cards, they swipe it out at all the stations and the money comes out. It’s like a little home banking site on their smartphones so that the kids are really getting an idea of what it’s like to use that,” said CEO of Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, John Felton.

The program is all about making real life decisions, and figuring out how to deal with the consequences.

“It’s to provide this opportunity to kids to show them what life is like after high school, pre- high school, into high school and then after high school. Making the right decisions and to avoid some pit-falls, but if you do that’s okay. We’re gonna show you some ways out of that too,” said Smeraldo.

The program will branch out to several school districts this fall, in hopes to provide even more teenagers with financial knowledge.


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