2011 Youth Summit

More than 90 youths from counties across the state participated in the NCACC's Second Annual Youth Summit at the 2011 NCACC Annual Conference in Cabarrus County. More than 90 youths traveled to Cabarrus County for the Association's second annual Youth Summit - and this year the 4-Hers came prepared to present solutions to the 10 greatest challenges affecting youths identified in 2010.

The NCACC again partnered with 4-H Youth Development and N.C. Cooperative Extension to sponsor YouthVoice 2011 to encourage and provide support for effective partnerships between youth and county governments. Through 4-H, each county was invited to send a youth representative to the Youth Summit.

Youth representatives arrived on Aug. 19 and attended the Horn O' Plenty event with county commissioners. Later on Friday evening, the groups held large and small group discussions on the issues. On Aug. 20, they voted for their top solutions before joining all Annual Conference attendees for a round of workshops and the second general session.

Focus groups in 4-H districts developed solutions earlier this year. During YouthVoice 2011, representatives took the ideas developed at the district focus groups and determined the top 3 ways to address each issue. State 4-H officers shared those solutions during the Business Session on Aug. 20. Issues and solutions are:

Violence: Implement a "Teen Court"; hold character-building classes; and hold self-defense classes.

Education: Hire quality and qualified teachers; offer more fundraising/sponsorship opportunities; and increase parental involvement.

Dropouts: Raise the drop-out age to 18; have more electives in school to address more personal interests; and offer more 1-on-1 mentoring opportunities.

Substance abuse: Implement more "scared straight" type programs; support DARE; and increase parental education.

Youth representatives voted for their top issues during an Aug. 20 breakfast.

Health issues: Make PE/gym classes mandatory for all grade levels; change school lunches to include healthier food; and incorporate healthy cooking classes.

Lack of things to do: Offer more sports activities for home-schooled youth (middle school and up); promote 4-H/FFA or other youth organizations; and offer more programs for middle and high school students.

Socio-economics: Hold a job fair for teens; offer internships; and offer money management programs.

Recreation: Offer in-school 4-H clubs; open high school sports to homeschoolers; and hold block parties.

Lack of youth voice: Have youth councils and government councils work together; offer more leadership opportunities; and form a youth council.

Teen pregnancy: Make parenting and child development classes mandatory for graduation; broaden education about teen pregnancy, abstinence, early education, STD prevention, birth control, and the emotional control aspects of having sex; and do not glorify teen pregnancy on television.

Task force offers ways to give youth a voice

Youth Involvement Task Force Chairman Ray Jeffers (Person County) introduced during the Business Session a report with recommendations to address "lack of youth voice in community," which was one of the issues identified during YouthVoice 2010.

The task force's recommendations include:
  1. Work with a county agency, such as 4-H, to develop a program to bring high school students to a county government facility to learn more about county government and reinforce what students learn about local government in the classroom. Involve local elected officials and department heads in these outreach events.
  2. Form a Youth Stakeholder Council and assign a county commissioner as a liaison to that council. The council represents an opportunity for county leaders and community groups such as foundations, nonprofits, school administrators and faith-based organizations to discover the array of services that can be provided to youth and to coordinate those services.
  3. Form a County Government Youth Council and assign a county commissioner as a liaison to that council. Convene the council on a semiannual basis to provide a regular forum for youth to share issues of concern with county leadership. Serve as a facilitator for youth councils and task members with developing solutions to issues that youth face. Affiliate your local youth council with the State Youth Council, which is part of the N.C. Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office.
  4. Use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact with youth. Follow the Cooperative Extension Service's guidelines for engaging youth through social media.
  5. Encourage careers in county government through internship and job shadowing programs for local high schools and institutions of higher learning. If your county runs a PEG (Public, Education and Governmental) channel, utilize the NCACC's Welcome to Your County video, which includes a "County Careers" segment to showcase various jobs in county government.