By Dianne Smith
Last December organizations who work directly with youth met at the school district office with Dr. Joy Jansen, director of special education, and Jeralyn Mires, Idaho’s counselor of the year. The goal of the meeting was to discuss services available to youth in the community and what the school was doing to support that. Concerns are at an all-time high because of the recent increase in youth suicides in the community.
On March 22, 2017, the group will meet again at the Teen Center from 8:30-10 a.m. All organizations who work with youth are invited to attend. Brainstorming and collaborating with others about the best way to support youth in the community will be the topic as well as discussing what else might be needed that currently isn’t available.
Community stakeholders are also invited. “Who are those?” you wonder. Community stakeholders are people from the community who have a vested interest in the youth. They might be retired people who have work experience to offer, parents who live in the community, teachers or even the small business owner. We are all community stakeholders really and I believe it is our job to know how we can support our youth so they have the best chance of becoming contributing members of the community.
This area has some wonderful organizations both that serve youth as well as serve the community. While publisher Ben Olson is on vacation I will have the opportunity to highlight some of them. For this article however, I will highlight the Teen Center who will be hosting the next meeting.
Joan Avery, the director, has such a passion, and her entire face glows when she has an opportunity to share about the center and what they provide there for teens. The center is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.
It gives the teens of the community a safe place to go after school where they can receive a little extra love and support. The Teen Center helps them be a little more resilient when faced with the stressors in their young lives. For adults looking for a place to volunteer, they would love the support. Whether it be a one-time class on looking for a job or a weekly mentor, all the studies on resiliency show that it just takes one significant adult to make all the difference in a child’s life.
I know that everyone has the same common goal of how to best help the youth of the community so that they can become contributing members of the community. I am hoping the many wonderful youth focused organizations and community stakeholders attend the next meeting of great minds to discuss how to work together to support the youth of the community.
Dianne Smith, LMFT is a licensed counselor who works with both children and adults. She has offices in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and can be reached at 951-440-0982.