Article submitted by Nancy Veal of 4-H
The best ideas for youth development in the central peninsula community were discussed Thursday at the Kenai Alternative School as part of an effort to create the agenda for youth development nationwide. Youth and adults were challenged to describe what youth need to achieve success in their lives at the Conversation on Youth Development in the 21st Century convened by 4-H.
As part of the centennial of the national 4-H youth development movement, 4-H is leading conversations in all 3,067 counties of the U.S. The 4-H centennial year is 2002.
Fourteen youth and adults from the community and from different walks of life met to discuss how to create the future they want for their youth, themselves and their community. Heidi Chay facilitated the meeting.
After ideas were listed, the participants voted on the ones they considered the most important. The one getting the most votes in the community was transportation. Young people oftentimes find themselves without rides to jobs and community/youth activities.
Jane Stein was present at the meeting and said she would report this to CARTS as she is on the board of that organization. Creating trails for ATVs was also mentioned under this idea. Trails are mainly needed in towns where ATV riding is largely prohibited.
The next two ideas received the same number of votes. One was the need to inform community members of available activities and jobs for youth. Brett Caswell, who works with the Boy Scouts, volunteered to create a Web site that would list these opportunities. Tying into that was the need to utilize the energy and enthusiasm of youth for the potential in solving community challenges.
Pastor Denver Copeland of the North Kenai Baptist Church suggested having teens work on low income/elderly housing. It was agreed that more youth conservation corps-type jobs would be helpful. Perhaps expanding the "Caring on the Kenai" program would be helpful. Working together on real life problems is key.
Developing more indoor recreation programs and after school activities during the winter was No. 4 on the list.
Acknowledging the good the youth do in the community was the next idea that received a good number of votes.
Crystal Morris, active in the Boys and Girls Club, may attend the state conversation that will be held in Anchorage Jan. 21 with the team attending from the 4-H Choices for Teens Club in Homer. The ideas from each local conversation around our country will be posted on the Web site www.4hcentennial.org.
To cap off the evening's conversation, Katie Schollenberg, a member of the Trail Blazers 4-H Club in Ninilchik, spoke about the Power of Youth Pledge Campaign. She recounted some the of many community service projects her club has done and encouraged everyone to pledge time toward community service.
A pledge card is available at the CES Office (262-5824) or at the Web site listed above. Tinei Schwenke and Kara Bethune from the Nikiski Funky Farmers Horse Club also spoke about their club's pledge to work at the Kenai Animal Shelter.
In February, 1,600 youth and adults will meet in Washington D.C. for the national conversation. These conversations in each of the 50 states, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and five territories will result in planning tools and a national curriculum reflecting the strategies that have been the most successful in helping young people succeed.
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