Submitted by: The Steering Committee for the Campaign for a Community/Youth Center
This summer, the Steering Committee for the Campaign for a Community/Youth Center in St. Mary’s County coordinated a Community Youth Mapping (CYM) project in order to: (1) to provide meaningful summer jobs for local youth, (2) to collect data to inform decisions relating to resources for families and youth, and (3) to mobilize the community to work on the Campaign for a Community/Youth Center.
The first objective was a total success! From their base at the Lexington Park library, thirty-one young people engaged in paid employment for six weeks. For some, it was their first job. This would not have been possible without the support of the County Commissioners, community donors and to Tri-County Youth Services Bureau.
For all mappers, it was a terrific opportunity to learn about their community (“I’ve lived here my whole life, but never knew about these places!”), gain the confidence to interact with adults (“They talked to us, and were interested in what we were doing!”), and commit to the Campaign. They have also expressed appreciation for what they learned during “Friday enrichment” with community partners, including personal finance and budgeting, the dangers of alcohol and vaping, and skills for job search and interviews.
Collecting Data and Presenting to Leaders
Secondly, the mappers collected a substantial amount of data and entered it into a central database. They completed over 260 place-based surveys (of local businesses, organizations and agencies) and 620 individual surveys (of county residents). The data is currently being analyzed. The youth mappers themselves will present at a meeting hosted by the League of Women Voters on Saturday, November 18th (from 9-11 a.m.) at the Lexington Park Library. This presentation is open to the public. Local organizations may contact the committee for more information on additional presentations of these findings.
Creating a Movement
The third objective was to identify members of the community to work on the campaign for a community/youth center in St. Mary’s County, and on the issues of family and youth resources. In fact, 83% of those who responded to the individual survey said that programs supporting children and youth should be given greater priority. Fully one-third, or over 200 respondents, said that they would be interested in developing new or expanded activities or programs for youth and families.
Lastly, but of great importance in terms of galvanizing the community to mobilize local resources, more than 225 people said that if the County would establish a volunteer Youth Commission to work with our county government, they would be interested in participating!
Stay tuned for more news on the CYM project and the Campaign for a Community/Youth Center in Lexington Park on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Youthcentercampaign/