Group working to improve communities for youth

WARRENSBURG The conference room at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Warrensburg was crowded with representatives from police, youth, town government, parents, mental health and more as over 30 community members met to outline a plan for young people recently. The first exercise was to envision a vibrant community where all youth are safe, valued, connected to adults and their community, and have opportunities to contribute. This sparked ideas for a community center, youth employment opportunities, and a skateboard park, among others.

Amy Langworthy, principal of the elementary school, discussed Project SAVE funding earmarked for character education and community service projects for youth of all ages.

Young people in Warrensburg are the focus of a group of varying people who are working to engage the community in positive youth programs.

The Assets Coming Together (ACT) for Youth Initiative of Warren and Washington Counties have chosen Warrensburg and Fort Ann as their spotlight communities for this year.

Robin Lyle is the collaboration coordinator for the project which received a grant from the state Department of Health for $100,000 a year for 5 years.

We are promoting positive youth development in Warren and Washington counties, Lyle said. Whats different about this is that we dont target only youth at risk; we recognize that all young people need positive opportunities to use their strengths and caring adults.

The group recently created a questionnaire for 7th through 12th graders that asked for ideas to improve Warrensburg, and they received 98 viable ideas from the results.

Over 200 responded that they would be willing to help with projects to improve the community, Lyle said.

She said that young people who cause trouble with graffiti could have some artistic talents to rechannel, perhaps with a local mural project.

Warren County Youth Bureau Director Margaret Sing Smith said the initiative isnt to tell people what to do, but rather increase the capacity of the community to provide assets for young people.

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