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This Planet file photo shows Positive Youth Development training session earlier this year. The next free workshop is Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To learn more and register, visit tchnetwork.org/class-registration or call the Tri-County Health Network offices at 970-708-7096.(Courtesy photo)

Do our youth have a voice in local decisions that impact them? Are their opinions solicited and respected? Do they have a seat at the table when adults make decisions that affect them? If we are honest, the best we can say is “sometimes” or “it depends.” But to help them successfully navigate adolescence and to thrive in young adulthood, it is critical that we offer them opportunities to define and enact solutions to the problems that they face today.  

“We like to say, ‘Nothing about them without them,’ when working with and supporting our youth during their transition from childhood to young adulthood,” says Paul Reich, behavioral health program manager at Tri-County Health Network. “Positive Youth Development helps all of us as adults to learn to work effectively alongside youth to find solutions to the issues they are facing today.”

Tri-County Health Network and the San Miguel Communities that Care are excited to offer a four-hour virtual Positive Youth Development workshop for community members on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The class is free to all community members, and being facilitated by Danelle Hughes Norman and Alex Durham, certified prevention specialists with Ouray County’s Voyager Youth Program. In a recent article in the Telluride Daily Planet, Hughes Norman, a certified teacher with 20 years of experience working with young people, said, “none of the education, experience and training I received compares to how profoundly Positive Youth Development has changed how I show up with youth which, in turn, changes how youth show up in our programs.”

Positive Youth Development is for anyone who works directly with youth or whose work impacts youth. Staff and board members of youth serving organizations, law enforcement, educators, parents, policymakers and any community members who care about youth are encouraged to attend. The class will help attendees incorporate the development of skills, opportunities and authentic relationships into program, practices and policies, so that young people reach their full potential.

Durham, in a recent Telluride Daily Planet article, described Positive Youth Development as an approach that “views young people at the center of identifying solutions to the issues they face, rather than the recipients of adult decisions. With young people at the center, it is critical that the adults and organizations that impact them can ensure that environments, practices, programs and policies are set in place for authentic youth engagement.”

Reich cited a recent example of Positive Youth Development in action, “The Parks and Recreation Commission engaged in a substantial revision of their Master Plan.  Youth from our Communities that Care High School Club were able to sit down with the commission and their consultant to advocate for a permanent youth space in the Town of Telluride. Their views were solicited and heard. And the final draft of the Master Plan reflects their input with potential spaces identified in Town Park for a permanent youth center. That’s Positive Youth Development in action.”

Pre-registration is required, and space is limited. To learn more and register for this workshop, visit tchnetwork.org/class-registration or call the Tri-County Health Network offices at 970-708-7096.

ABOUT COMMUNITIES THAT CARE COALITION

The San Miguel Communities that Care Coalition was formed in early 2017 through a grant awarded to Tri-County Health Network by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. The coalition is comprised of students, parents, community members, and representatives from many youth serving organizations and leaders in education, government, law enforcement and social services. The coalition’s vision is to create “A community that empowers our youth to be healthy, productive, resilient and engaged.” For more information, contact Sami Damsky at 970-708-7096 or info@tchnetwork.org.

ABOUT TRI-COUNTY HEALTH NETWORK

Formed in 2010, Tri-County Health Network is a 501c3 nonprofit. TCHNetwork operates over 20 community outreach programs that serve a vital role in filling the void of access to health care by assuring care is accessible, affordable and available to all populations in a four-county region (San Miguel, Montrose, Ouray and Delta counties). We are committed to increasing access to care, building health equity and eliminating health disparities. For more information, visit tchnetwork.org.