Georgia Youth Summit held

Published 6:34 am Thursday, September 30, 2010

The fifth Biennial Georgia Youth Summit was held at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Ga., from Sept. 11 to 13.

This three-day leadership conference was attended by 716 youth and adults from 133 counties.

This summit is designed to increase awareness of state and local issues, enhance youth-adult partnerships on the local level and equip youth to become active locally in the betterment of their community.

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The Summit focuses on issues related to economic development, education, health and safety. In addition to preparing youth to address local issues, the Summit provides a forum through which youth identify the issues that are relevant to them and their communities. These reports are shared with the governor, the Georgia General Assembly and other leaders around the state.

The Summit is funded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Rural Development Council through the Leadership Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the goal of preparing the next generation of Georgia’s leaders. The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Cooperative Extension and Georgia 4-H coordinates the Summit with assistance from the Georgia EMCs and Fort Valley State University.

The Summit is open to youth and adults from any youth development organization and scholarships for four youth and one adult were provided to teams from every county in the state.  The delegation representing Decatur County included Alexandra McLendon of Grace Christian Academy, and Quiana Childs, Carolina Crowder and Briona Gonzalez, all from Bainbridge High School.

While at the Summit, participants discussed community challenges and assets and developed an action plan to address a local issue.

Connecting county teams with resources and potential collaborators was a key goal of the Summit.

The theme of the Summit was “Take Up the Torch” and participants were inspired by  speaker Crystal Hardy, who was selected to carry the torch in the 2008 Olympics because of her commitment to developing projects that address needs in her communities.

Mike Worley, manager for Non-Metro Community Development at Georgia Power, spoke on the issue of economic development. Keith Carter, principal of Colham Ferry Elementary School, spoke on the issue of education. Rodney Lyn, professor at Georgia State University and director of Policy Leadership for Active Youth, spoke on the issue of health. Chief Jimmy Williamson, UGA chief of Police, spoke on the issue safety. These speakers also fielded a variety of questions from the youth in attendance.

After identifying an issue, Summit teams learned how to use a logic model to identify the root causes of issues and develop a realistic plan for producing short-term, medium-term and long-term outcomes. They also learned about grant writing and how to promote their project to key community partners.

To conclude the Summit, commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, Mike Beatty, challenged county teams to take what they learned at the Summit back to their counties and work to make Georgia a better place to live.

More information on the Summit, including county issues and action plans will be reported in the next few weeks.