On Monday, April 30, citizens and young people attended a gathering at the Macon County Commission Annex to discuss programs and opportunities that help develop young people into productive and active citizens. Chris McCauley, executive director of the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, facilitated the conversation among participants.
Representatives from the following organizations shared about their work: Black Belt Deliberative Dialogue Network, 21st Century Community Learning Center, Bridge Builders, Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven, Tuskegee Public Housing Authority, AU Macon County Youth Program, Inspire the Youth Foundation, and Younge Black Artists Movement.
After sharing information related to each program and the opportunities available to young people, the group discussed various challenges. Many participants discussed a lack of cohesion and support for community activities, while others expressed the need for better communication among citizens. While frustrations are experienced among all who work to provide opportunities for youth, everyone agreed that future success depends on young people.
Oftentimes, people in communities who are working hard for the public good do so in their own worlds, since the work is so time and energy consuming. Time to breathe and collaborate with others is limited, but when we invest in each other and find ways to strengthen our efforts together, the community benefits in the end. We need more opportunities for mutual cooperation, chances to see what we might accomplish together.
One student, Bethany Reid, was recognized for selection for the 2012 Appalachian Regional Commission/Oak Ridge National Laboratory High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute, a two-week summer program for high school students and teachers. Bethany, like all of the young people in attendance, represent the future.