Youth Engaging Youth

The TEENworks (Teen Employment and Education Network) program at the Goodman Community Center will be organizing a "Youth Engaging Youth" event. This event will be held on Saturday, September 10th to both give back to community through service and serve as a remembrance to what the date September 11th means to our nation and to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

Thirty high school youth are working alongside ten young adults to plan an event that will engage more youth in our community through service learning and recreation. This group of young people has spent the summer giving back to the community through a variety of service projects including: preparing over 200 meals a day to be distributed free to the community, planting and maintaining a food pantry garden, building benches for parks, maintaining a chicken coop, restoring a creek, and providing recreational and learning opportunities to hundreds of youth when school is not in session.

The challenges faced by our community are many as are those across our nation including poverty, food insecurity, lack of education and lack of employment opportunities. Our project seeks to tackle these challenges by providing young adults with the opportunity to engage children with positive activities that create community and encourage healthy choices with education and living.

The "Youth Engaging Youth" event on September 10th will be a culmination event of a summer of service. The young adults are planning a variety of fun and educational activities for younger youth. Meals have always been a positive way to build community. Students will prepare and serve food making a nutritious meal available to all in our community. Students are also planning service projects to clean up the local park and ensure that the playground is a safe place for children of all ages. Students are also planning recreational activities to engage students in healthy non-competitive play.

There will be several art projects available including large rolls of paper for all community members to write or illustrate what September 11th means to them. Children will also have the opportunity to make power dolls. A power doll is a simple yarn doll that has a personalized message written in the center of something the child wants to accomplish. This type of art project allows young children safe ways to express their inner feelings and hopes for the future.

The youth planning the event will be responsible for recruiting additional youth to serve. The goal is for each of the 30 youth to bring 3 friends to the event for a total of over 100 teenagers helping make the world a better place. In addition, we would like to have over 200 children with their families celebrate the day with activities in the park.

As this event coincides with the end of summer and the beginning of school we plan on inviting staff from the three local elementary schools, two middle schools and the high school top come and join in with the project we are working on. One goal of this event is to connect what the youth have been doing during the summer with their school work. We are encouraging youth to stay in school, become engaged in their communities and become lifelong learners who make positive contributions to society.

Students are actively searching out donations from local businesses to be able to provide food, recreational equipment, and school supplies to the children who attend the event. We are asking for balls, Frisbees, and jump ropes to provide students with simple outlets for expending energy in positive ways that can help create healthy lifestyle choices. We also want to provide materials for students to be successful in school.

We have also extended invitations to other groups to join the event including local sport celebrities, the zoo, artist collectivities and institutions of higher learning. Each of these groups can bring a new perspective to the youth and provide opportunities for the future.

The youth and staff at the Goodman Community Center are exciting about supporting this event that will help to strengthen lives of all people in the community.