Coös County students create campaign to empower peers

Public awareness campaign helps young people in the North Country feel heard, loved and valued by their communities

Coös County, NH (PRESS RELEASE) –– After reviewing research about youth experience in the North Country, Coös County students have created the “Empower Coös Youth” public awareness campaign to help young people in the region feel heard, loved and valued by their communities. The campaign includes movie theater ads, restaurant placemats, posters, flyers for schools and empowerment bracelets. It also includes an Instagram campaign @empowercoosyouth where people can post photos illustrating ways youth are empowered in their communities. Some campaign materials have already debuted in schools, while the rest will be distributed this month.

Students examined results from the Coös Youth Study, a longitudinal research project conducted by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire with funding from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

The campaign will encourage youth, families, and civic and community leaders to read the research, discuss the challenges and strengths it reveals, and to consider innovative ways to engage and support youth in the region. The campaign’s website, www.empowercoosyouth.com, includes recommendations for students, parents, and educators.

“When kids do well, they have the opportunity to become the adults who will sustain and contribute to and improve those communities in the future,” said Kirsten Scobie, director of Tillotson Funds at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. “We hope that the data from this study will be used widely by youth, teachers, parents and communities in their efforts to help all of our kids thrive.”

Now in its eighth year, the Coös Youth Study has gathered data on the attitudes, aspirations, and experiences of Coös youth – exploring family, school, and community relationships, attachment to the Coös region, and educational and career goals. Among the Coös Youth Study’s findings is that community connectedness correlates with a variety of positive outcomes for youth. Complete findings are available at http://carsey.unh.edu/tracking-changes-north-country.

While youth in Coös County are engaged in their communities, the research shows that despite such participation, many feel their voices are muted, and their ideas or perspectives are not heard by adults. Because the quality of young people’s interactions with adults is so critical to social and emotional development, this campaign seeks to help young people’s voices be heard. Students participating in the Youth Leadership Through Adventure program, a project of the North Country Health Consortium, were invited by the Charitable Foundation to consider the data as it related to their experiences.

“The project as a whole, I was really excited about it,” said Berlin High School senior Julianne Plourde. “We have a special group of youth in our community and having all the research to know what we think and what we want to do is important, and I hope people start using that…it could help grow our community in a positive direction. I was really excited about it, knowing that people care about us up here.”

The Empower Coös Youth campaign and the Youth Leadership Through Adventure Program are also supported by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Learn more about the Empower Coös Youth campaign by visiting www.empowercoosyouth.com or join the conversation by posting photos of action your community is taking to empower youth on Instagram @empowercoosyouth.

About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation was created in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire, and is dedicated to strengthening communities across the Granite State. The Foundation manages a growing collection of 1,700 philanthropic funds created by generous families, individuals and businesses, and awards more than $30 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation invests charitable assets for today and tomorrow; works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving; supports critical work happening in New Hampshire communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.