Youth commission tackles issues

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 21, 2008

FRANKLIN—Volunteers from the community are working together to provide a positive environment for local youth.

The concept of a youth commission was discussed at the City Council’s retreat in November, led by Director of Parks & Recreation Frank Davis. He offered the idea as a possible solution to helping the at-risk youth in the city.

&uot;(The issue) began to surface through some community ward meetings,&uot; said Davis during a recent interview. &uot;People are concerned about the youth in the city.&uot;

Davis said that many of the activities at the Surry County Office on Youth, where he was former director, focused on prevention programs.

&uot;We’d look at a lot of information from high-risk indicator reports,&uot; Davis said. &uot;Then we’d establish goals and develop strategies. We’d come up with a comprehensive plan that involved how we could address some of the problems.

&uot;Somewhere through the years, we have dropped the ball.&uot;

The newly assembled youth interest group is a citywide effort to provide these prevention programs, and the youth themselves are involved in the planning.

With only three meetings, representatives of The City Council, the school officials, department officials, students and parents have been making some headway, according to Davis.

At a meeting earlier this month, students were divided into groups by school for a youth steering committee rap session. The discussion groups came up with answers to questions that were produced in a prior meeting. Approximately 80 people attended the meeting, according to Davis.

Some of the issues addressed were recreational activities students like to see, things youth can do to improve the city, and things city officials can do to stop violence, gangs and drugs in the community.

Franklin High School students said that they would like to see go-cart riding, a teen center to have fund-raisers, and possibly Laser Tag at the old Hayden building.

J.P. King Middle School students noted community services, volunteering, fund-raisers and car washes as ways youth can help improve or give back to Franklin.

S.P. Morton Elementary students said that city officials can advertise on television, shut down stores where people hang out, have tighter security and offer more prevention programs in the schools as ways to stop violence, gangs and drugs in the community.

&uot;We made a lot of progress,&uot; said Davis. &uot;We have a good diverse mix of people from the community.

&uot;At the next meeting, we are going to go over our information, and then try to make some plans on how to implement some of the suggestions.&uot;

The interest group is in its preliminary stages and has met only a few times.

The next meeting will be held April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Oak Street.

The meeting is open to the public.