Chautauqua Bright Spots to celebrate ‘youth empowerment’

JAMESTOWN — As Margaret Mead once said, “The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown.” Youth empowered to explore their creativity, talents and acts of community service can truly impact our world. With this in mind, Chautauqua Bright Spots is excited to announce its next community event, recognizing six organizations working to make Chautauqua County a better and brighter place through their youth programming.

These organizations, and the individuals dedicated to their impact, deserve acknowledgement due to the opportunities they provide young persons within Chautauqua County.

On Oct. 16, these community efforts will be celebrated during an event held at the Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys and Girls Club of Jamestown, located at 62 Allen St. The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. Community members are encouraged to attend. Honorees chosen include the Prendergast Library, Battle of the Books, Infinity Performing Arts, the Impact Group, Awareness Theater, and the Boys and Girls Club of Jamestown.

These entities were selected because of to the positive programming and services they provide, centered on creating a more positive environment for youth of all ages. Each of the organizations recognized embody the Chautauqua Bright Spot’s mission; to empower groups, and individuals to create positive community change, highlight positive alternatives to harmful behaviors, and build community connectedness and synergy to make Chautauqua a healthier place to live, work and play.

Chautauqua Bright Spots recognizes neighborhoods, individuals, and organizations for making positive changes in the community, and is an initiative of HOPE Chautauqua. HOPE Chautauqua is a coalition formed to promote substance abuse prevention in the county. Coalition members desired a way to recognize the good things happening in the community while working to raise awareness of substance abuse prevention efforts in Chautauqua County. Chautauqua Bright Spots supports and promotes all the positive things happening in Chautauqua County!

Chautauqua County Battle of the Books

The Chautauqua County Battle of the Books is embarking on its third year of inspiring youth to get excited about reading. A lively academic competition, Battle of the Books improves reading comprehension, builds vocabulary, and teaches teamwork and good sportsmanship. An initiative of Chautauqua Institution’s Department of Education, with support this past year from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and Cummins, Inc. JEP, the Battle is based on similar programs across the country, notably one held in partnership between the Howard County Library System and Howard County Public School System in Maryland.

The program is open to all Chautauqua County fifth-graders. Teachers, library directors and parents can sign up as coaches with five students per team; over the course of the winter, students read a list of 12 books (through the generosity of donors, the Institution is able to provide each team with one set of books), determine a team name and create costumes in preparation for the Battle, where the students are quizzed on the books they have read.

The 2018 Battle was held in the Chautauqua Amphitheater, to accommodate the program’s rapid growth — in just its second year, the Battle saw 160 fifth-grade students from 14 school districts participate in the competition.

Prendergast Library’s Free Youth Programming

Throughout the year, and especially during the summer months, the library staff is busy implementing STEAM and literacy based activities in our Makerspace and throughout the library to encourage learning and social development. Over the last three years, there has been an increase in our Summer Reading Program participation through our outreach efforts as they encourage the integration of a reading component with all of our community partnerships. The children who come to the library on a regular basis, but who are reluctant readers, complete the Summer Reading Challenge by participating in literacy based games and activities while also developing important social skills. In addition, through a generous partnership with the YMCA, these children received a free lunch Monday through Friday — a total of 984 free lunches were served during the summer to all of the children who visited the library daily using it as a safe place.

Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys & Girls Club of Jamestown

The Winifred Crawford Dibert Boys & Girls Club of Jamestown is dedicated to enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to become productive, caring, responsible citizens. With support from our community they work in three main areas to offer a life-long, whole person approach.

Academic Success is a key component to what they do. Staff plan High Yield Learning Activities as well as help with homework and monitor school grades and attendance. Healthy Lifestyles is the second component. This focuses on making good choices in eating habits, exercise and continuing prevention education to keep our members healthy. Good Character and Citizenship is our third main area. Teaching our members the value of learning early career skills and volunteering and supporting their community helps to build a well-rounded, productive adult.

“We are fortunate to be able to work with our members from as early as age 5 all the way through high school graduation, building mentoring relationships with members and their families and offering support in a variety of ways. We truly believe — Great Futures Start Here,” said the Boys and Girls Club.

Impact

Impact is a student-led, advisor coached, inter-denominational Christian Club that meets during the school lunch periods. They are now in 41 schools and counting. Students from all backgrounds in local schools come together to grow in their brotherly and sisterly love for each other, for God, and their campus. They affirm the Apostles Creed as a good summation of their faith. Meetings can consist of plans for service projects, activities, discussions, etc. The advisors provide support for their schools club, and occasionally work with school administration to address character formation issues in the schools.

Recently an afterschool program called, ‘Stepping Stones’, has been introduced through Impact Ministry. The idea is to help kids release emotions in productive ways. Through prayer, journals, conversation, crafts, music, treats, and creativity; our hope is to help kids turn stumbling blocks into Stepping Stones. Our motto is-*Giving kids a Step Up* in a world that brings them down.

For more information, please contact Impact Campus Fellowship Director, Dan Soderberg, at dan@zioncov.org

If you know of a group, entities, or organizations in Chautauqua County that fit the description of a Bright Spot according to the initiative’s mission, please make a nomination. Nomination forms are available at the Chautauqua Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Council (CASAC) offices at 501 W. 3rd Street or on the Chautauqua Bright Spots Facebook, where you can either download the form or follow the link to complete online. Nominations are accepted continuously, and Bright Spots will be designated at special recognition events on a periodic basis.

There are many Bright Spots out there, so let’s give them the spotlight they deserve!

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