Sunday, October 12, 2008

Could our Future be Brighter?

The Franklin County Interagency Partners hosted a Youth Summit last night Oct. 11, at the Battery Park Community Center in downtown Apalachicola.

The partnership includes the Franklin County Public Library Youth Development Programs – KIT and TIGERS, Friends of Franklin County Public Library, Franklin’s Promise Coalition, and the Franklin County Community Partnership for Children and Youth.

Due to recent complaints aired by residents at meetings of the Franklin County Commission and at meetings of both the City of Apalachicola and Carrabelle. The Partnership responded by organizing the Summit to give the youth of our community an opportunity to speak freely and directly with local elected officials about the issues that matter to them and their peers.

However, prior to the Summit and brought on by the complaints. Franklin County officials installed security cameras at the Carrabelle Beach Wayside Park as a way to discourage vandalism, public drunkenness, and rowdy behavior by teenagers visiting the park late at night.

The City of Carrabelle has come aboard and is considering establishing a curfew to deter teen rowdiness, vandalism, and burglary in the downtown area of Carrabelle. While the City of Apalachicola is in a constant battle with teenagers over late night loitering and weekend fighting.

A diverse crowd of city and county officials, representatives from the health department, State Attorney’s Office, School Board, Sheriff Office, local Pastors, candidates running for office and concerned parents attended the Summit and received an earful from the panel of 10 Franklin County students.

The students ranged in age from 13 to 17, embraced dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, and journalists voiced their feelings of frustration and hopelessness at the apparent lack of after school and awareness programs and recreational activities designed specifically for them.

The kids talked about their desire to have recreational activities such as a skating rink, bowling alley, game room, movie theater or swimming pool located in the center of the County for all Franklin County kids to utilize. They discussed the need for youth awareness programs to teach them about the dangers associated with illegal drugs and teenage pregnancy.

Most of the kids agreed, that if things didn’t get any better for them, upon graduation from high school they would leave Franklin County never to return. They pleaded with the adults in attendance to listen to what they had to say and act upon their suggestions.

Event coordinator Carol Barfiled told the crowd that her agency sent out invitations to every City Commissioner from Carrabelle to Apalachicola, to each School Board member as well as to each Franklin County Commissioner. However, the only elected officials in attendance were County Commissioner Cheryl Sanders, School Board Member Denise Butler and yours truly.

Scott Shiver, Youth Pastor at the Eastpoint Church of God, Kevin Ward, Area Director with the Franklin County Boys and Girls Club, Temolynn Wintons, with the Love Center’s Project Impact, Ryan Sandoval with the Sheriff’s Youth Programs and again yours truly shared with the teens the assortment of youth programs and activities provided by the agencies.

However, Joel Williams, who sat on the panel, summed it best when he said, “if you would just consider some of the suggestions from this panel, our future could be brighter”.

Photos courtesy of Carol Barfield

No comments:

Post a Comment