County Youth Forum: Youths, adults can share ideas, eat pizza

The future well-being of a community depends not on strategic land development or even strict budgeting, but on the young people within that particular community. As more time and effort is used to develop the youth of today, there is a stronger likelihood that the future of the community will be in good hands.

Positive youth development can be made possible through learning about the young people within our community. On Nov.16, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the county’s 16th Annual Community Youth Forum will give youths and adults an opportunity to discuss youth-related issues, share ideas and develop strategies to promote the positive growth of local youth. The Why? We Hear You Community Youth Forum will be held at the Chesterfield Technical Center. Students, in both middle and high school parents and educators should attend this year’s forum.

Following a pizza dinner, free for all attending, the evening will include two discussion topics: Dodge the Pressure, a look at the pressures teens face today and how they can avoid feeling stressed, and Dare 2B U, a discussion about stereotypes of teens and what influences these stereotypes. Special guest, Dr. Linda Hancock, Director for the Office of Health Promotions, will be demonstrating the difference between perception and reality to help youths make healthier choices. Registration for the forum is requested, but not necessarily required for people to attend.

“We hope to increase awareness about youth-related issues in our community and give our youths and adults the opportunity to have their voices heard, as well as take their recommendations to our community leaders,” said Beth Clements, a youth development specialist in the office sponsoring the event, Chesterfield County Youth Planning and Development.

Clements, who will be attending the forum, emphasized the need for people to speak up, as what they say will be heard and actually implemented.

“We want youth to share innovative ideas,” she said. “We need to know the recommendations a community has and want the community’s help.”

However, the youth are not the only ones whose opinions will be highly regarded. It is just as important to hear the expressed opinions of parents, as well.

“Our goal is to have parents come. It’s important to hear both perspectives-students and adults,” said Clements. “We can take the recommendations back to the Board of Supervisors and have them incorporated into the community.”

Last year, 80 people came to the event, but those planning and implementing the event need as many people to come as possible.

The registration deadline for the event is Nov. 12, but walk-ins are welcome the night of the event and people interested in attending can call Youth Planning and Development at 796-7100. Online registration can be done by visiting chesterfield.gov and clicking on the Youth Forum Spotlight ad to access the registration form online.

The address of the Chesterfield County Technical Center is 10101 Courthouse Road, Chesterfield.

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