Return home

Students at 2022 Herkimer County Youth Summit focus on ‘building a better tomorrow’

Posted 11/17/22

Herkimer County students chose a theme of “building a better tomorrow” for the 2022 Herkimer County Youth Summit – with a focus on mental health and improving behavior in school.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Students at 2022 Herkimer County Youth Summit focus on ‘building a better tomorrow’

Posted

HERKIMER — Herkimer County students chose a theme of “building a better tomorrow” for the 2022 Herkimer County Youth Summit – with a focus on mental health and improving behavior in school.

About 100 students from 12 school districts and programs – as well as members of a new Herkimer County Youth Advisory Council – attended the 2022 Herkimer County Youth Summit recently at Herkimer College. Catholic Charities of Herkimer County organized the Youth Summit.

Catholic Charities and student organizers from local schools said they identified that many students have struggled since COVID-19 with how to act now that they’re in school in-person again.

Herkimer Central School District senior Lilliana Langdon, one of the student organizers for the Youth Summit, said students wanted to use to Youth Summit to combat the attitude and mental health concerns.

“With this, we really want to flip that around,” Langdon said. “Mental health affects everyone, whether they want to talk about it or not. It’s such an important thing for everyone.”

The school districts with students at the Youth Summit were Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland, Town of Webb and West Canada Valley. Students also attended from the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School (VP-TECH) and the Herkimer BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington.

Trisha Alford, Youth engagement specialist for Catholic Charities of Herkimer County and Herkimer County System of Care, served as the Youth Summit coordinator. The student facilitators were Central Valley students Lauren Joy and Madison Sawyer, Dolgeville students Lexus Lyon and Jasmine Barnes, Herkimer students Lilliana Langdon and Madison Gargas, Little Falls students Makena Tooley and Avery McLaughlin, Owen D. Young student Isabella Valenta, Poland students Madeline Swanson and Karyn Castelano, VP-TECH students Zachary Cool and Landon Davidson and Town of Webb students Cameron Guirdy and Ellie Bartlett.

The “building a better tomorrow” theme, which Gargas came up with, tied into what students were concerned about since the start of the organization meetings, organizers said.

“During the first meeting, they talked about just being back together after COVID, people not being kind to each other and not knowing how to behave,” Alford said. “They kind of lost all of that.”

Near the beginning of the Youth Summit, Alford outlined the agenda for the day and said the guest speaker and other presenters are aware of the issues students chose for the event.

“I hope they focus on all these things and you learn a lot today,” she said.

Students started the day with refreshments and a yoga session. Guest speaker Jessie Funk, a singer and motivational speaker, then gave a presentation. Next, students participated in three breakout sessions.

One session was a mindfulness activity involving adding positive affirmations to tote bags. Another session was mental wellbeing and cyber safety activity featuring a mental health game based on the Jeopardy game show. The other session was a social development activity on healthy relationships and drug education with a trivia game that involved passing around a giant beach ball.

After lunch, students met in groups of their own schools and programs to develop action plans to put in place at their schools. Students wrote out their ideas on posters and then presented them on stage at Herkimer College in front of the other schools.

Students will take their proposed plans back to their schools – as well as photos of other schools’ posters – and can work with their school leaders to bring some of the ideas to life, Alford said. Near the end of the school year, the student facilitators will meet again to talk about what the schools did to put their action plans into place, Alford added.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here