The Brightside: Y.E.E.S. W.E. C.A.N.

SOMERSET CO., Md. – With a focus on aviation and studying STEM subjects, one group in Somerset County is showing kids that the sky is truly the limit.

“Our goal is to give opportunities to kids who might not have had the opportunity to get into the type of material that we have,” Jon Hurst, a Mentor with Y.E.E.S. W.E. C.A.N., said. The name stands for Young Elites of the Eastern Shore West to East Coast Aviation Network.

The organization is an aviation-focused group in Somerset County, broadening horizons for kids.

“The passion came from being with the Tuskegee Airmen, East Coast chapter several years ago, seeing their youth were able to fly, and to take advantage of the field of aviation,” Cheryl Walker, the founder, said.

The group of kids and mentors meets biweekly on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus to talk about and learn about the STEM related subjects that go into aviation.

“The pathways to aviation, aerospace technology, engineering, and all of the other pathways that are inclusive within the field of aviation are the exposure that we want to make sure our youth are prepared for,” Walker explained.

That includes a lot of math, science, and technology exposure that students may not get in their normal classrooms. It also includes field trips, talks with aviation mentors, and some hands-on-experience. Walker says it’s about expanding horizons for these kids and teaching them that aviation isn’t just about flying a plane.

“When you think of aviation, they always go straight to pilot, and ‘I can’t be a pilot because I’m afraid to fly or I’m afraid of heights.’ But as we know, the field of aviation is just so much broader and so much greater than being a pilot,” she said.

But even if kids in the group find that aviation just isn’t for them, mentors say the lessons learned are helpful throughout life.

“Those skills in terms of being able to approach problem solving, are super valuable no matter what field you’re in, or what area of life,” Hurst said.

And no matter what path these kids take, Walker says the sky is the limit.

“It’s important for kids because it’s the future,” she said.

If you have a kid who may be interested in joining the program, you can find the application on their website.

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