UNH Extension, Sullivan County, is announcing its rollout of a new program aimed at developing a culture of positive choices and empowerment of youth in Claremont and Newport. The project, named Youth CAN (Claremont and Newport), is a coalition of community members, partners and organizations that intend to initiate youth-led strategies, activities, and programs that foster positive outlooks and healthy choices.
Gail Kennedy, a Youth and Family Resiliency Field Specialist for the Sullivan County Extension Office, spoke of the excitement of Extension’s role in helping to put the Coalition together. “The Well Connected Communities (WCC) project is made possible through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National 4-H Council to Extension offices in a number of states. Cooperative Extension has a long history of helping people in rural areas improve their health conditions. Our coalition will involve youth to develop a voice and action plan to develop a greater array of alternatives to experimentation with, and misuse of, substances. The youth will take the lead in selecting strategies, activating the plan, and help assess the impact of the activities.”
The Coalition is composed of representatives from Extension, the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the school systems and civic leadership offices of the two communities, medical organizations, and private non-profits like West Central Behavioral Health. Kennedy continued, “Our preliminary work has included establishing a website and a broader social media presence; sponsoring a logo contest; developing youth outreach strategies and examining the utility of several possible strategies, one being PhotoVoice, in which youth can use photos to document their communities strengths and needs as they see them.” Youth CAN welcomes any member of the community that is interested in supporting youth as community change-makers.