When CRYP opened the doors to its Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center in August 2006, its mission went beyond simply providing a safe place for teens to socialize, enjoy meals and snacks, do homework, watch movies and play sports. The center also was designed to provide a venue for learning valuable job and life skills.
That vision became a reality with the CRYP internship programs. Today, nine years after Cokata Wiconi’s dedication, the youth project offers art internships as well as internships in the 2-acre, naturally grown Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) garden, in the Keya (“Turtle”) Gift Shop and in the farm-to-table Keya Cafe & Coffeeshop. And it turns out, the kids are as excited about their opportunities as we are.
Meet Khalid Garreau, a Rapid City, South Dakota-based teen who has family on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The son of Sonny Wayne Garreau and Heather Taken Alive, Khalid was a frequent visitor to CRYP’s The Main youth center as a small child; he says the fun activities and interesting people always kept him coming back. Then he found out about the internship programs at Cokata Wiconi.
In 2013, Khalid completed his first internship in the Winyan Toka Win garden at age 13. Two years later, the now 15-year-old decided to make the leap into the Keya Cafe.
“I like coffee making and the different types of coffees, and I really want to work at Starbucks,” he says. “The internship seemed like a good way to prepare for a job as a barista, and the cafe is a great place to be if you like being around people. I do.”
He admits that the internship did have its challenges.
“It could be so busy, with so many customers,” he recalls. “It was hard, just not knowing what to do sometimes. But it was a really great experience.”
Khalid enjoyed that experience so much, he decided to continue beyond his internship — he is now a summer cafe employee. He’ll return to Rapid City this fall to start the 10th grade, and from there, the sky’s the limit. Not only does this enterprising young man want to work as a Starbucks barista, he has his sights set on higher education. One day, he’d like to be a scientist — an epidemiologist, perhaps, or an astronomer. He also wants to travel.
“I’m keeping my options open,” he says with a smile.
One thing is certain: Khalid sees his CRYP internships as valuable stepping stones toward his future.
“I learned real skills,” he says. “The kinds of things you need for your job, and your life.”