Positive Youth Development Impact Council
The Positive Youth Development Impact Council is a Berkshire United Way countywide, community led committee that aims to increase the four year high school graduation rate. While the council will be dormant through the 2016-2017 fiscal year as Berkshire United Way undergoes a strategic planning process, another round of Prevention Needs Assessment Survey will be conducted and the work of Humans of the Berkshires will continue.
Prevention Needs Assessment Survey
Every two years, Berkshire County school districts collaborate with the Berkshire Youth Development Project (BYDP) to administer a Prevention Needs Assessment Survey (PNAS) to eighth, tenth and twelfth graders. The survey asks a number of questions aimed at quantifying the prevalence of substance use as well as other risk and protective factors that may contribute to those rates. You can view the results of the February 2015 PNAS here.
The next PNAS will be conducted in November of 2016. Stay tuned for updates, and for the new county data.
Humans of the Berkshires
Since we started conducting the Prevention Needs Assessment Survey in 2007, a critical data point that has always stood out is just how many youth do not perceive that their community and neighbors recognize their successes and are supporting their aspirations.
About 70% of 8th graders believe this, and it only increases for 10th and 12th graders. This data point shines a light on how youth perceive themselves to be cast aside in the county, and are disengaged - which correlates with a lower percentage of them engaging in volunteerisum, and ultimately seeking a future in the Berkshries.
Berkshire County has adapted the successful Humand of New York social media campaign to crate a countywide forum that celebrates the rich lives of local youth as well as the abundant, positive, intergenerational interactions in the area. Humans of New York was started by photographer Brandon Stanton in 2010 as an effort to catalog New York City's eclectic residents, posting a simple photograph of the subject alongside their story. The initiative has blossomed into a movement, having been recreated around the world to celebrate the diversity and positivity of copious communities.
Humans of the Berkshires is a campaign aimed at featuring the diverse talents and interests of young peopel of the county in response to this data. Youth doing constructive, positive things for the community are so often overlooked in favor of the negative stories, so we wanted to create a platform for the yough contributing to the growth of our community to be celebrated. Our goal is for Humans of the Berkshires to be run by Berkshire County residents, giving everyone a chance to share their voice. Michelle Bienvenue, school adjustment counselor at Taconic High School has said, "I think this project is so great becuase we as school personnel get to see all the incredible things students do all day long, but not everyone else does."
Humans of the Berkshires launched May 25, 2016 with a profile of Mason Papirio of Pittsfield High School who said, "My family insprires me a lot because they always motivate me and push me to better myself. My mom is a huge inspiration in my life. She comes to all my wrestling matches, football and lacrosse games. Right now she is working two jobs to support me and my sister and pay all the bills, and it is just an inspiration...one day I hope to help my mom out, let her retire well, and treat her well."
Members of the community are encouraged to like the Humands of the Berkshires Facebook page and follow Humans of the Berkshires on Instagram. To nominate an individual between the ages of 14 and 22 for Humans of the Berkshires, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.