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Youth Leadership Through Adventure (YLTA) students active with the Empower Coös Youth Campaign. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Youth Leadership Through Adventure (YLTA) students active with the Empower Coös Youth Campaign. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Coös County students create campaign to kickstart community conversations

High school students created a public awareness campaign – engaging community members in conversations that create positive school and community experiences for Coös youth

COÖS COUNTY, NH (PRESS RELEASE) – After reviewing research about youth experience in the North Country, Coös County high school students have created the 2017 “Empower Coös Youth” public awareness campaign—the third in a series—to engage community members in conversations about values, activities and resources that create positive school and community experiences for Coös youth.

The campaign includes flyers for schools, a direct mail piece to be distributed throughout the region, reusable tote bags, and empowerment bracelets. The items tell personal stories of positive experiences in school and in community written by local youth. Some campaign materials have already debuted in schools, while the rest will be distributed in June.

In creating the campaign, 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. The study is funded by 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.

“Empower Coös Youth creates opportunity for kids to express how they feel about their community and school. It is a great program that gives Coös youth a meaningful and powerful voice,” said Emily McCusker of White Mountain Regional High School.

“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 10th 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/policy/coos-youth-study.

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. More than 30 students participating in the Youth Leadership Through Adventure program, a project of the North Country Health Consortium and Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Prevention Tools, were invited by the Charitable Foundation to consider the data as it related to their experiences.

“This entire campaign – from the imagery to the messaging to distribution of materials – was developed by Coös students looking for new ways to engage in conversation with their parents, teachers, and community leaders,” said Sasha Tracy, Empower Coös Youth project coordinator.

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 is New Hampshire’s statewide community foundation, founded in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire. The Foundation manages a growing collection of more than 1,800 funds created by generous individuals, families and businesses, and awards nearly $40 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving, supports great work happening in our communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.