Positive Youth Development
Berkshire United Way is collaborating across the county to change the environment in which youth live, supporting them to make healthier decisions which will lead them to graduate high school with a vision for their future. To determine our strategies, Berkshire Untied Way collaborates with partners in north and south county to implement a survey to all 8th, 10th and 12th graders every two years. Our aim is to pin point what risk and protective factors are currently influencing our youth, and how best to support them.
Based on the surveys and research, we know that alcohol and drug use, along with teen pregnancy, increases the likelihood of youth dropping out of high school. That is why Berkshire United Way is encouraging youth to make healthy decisions to ensure high school graduation.
To date, we've made an impact across the county, including:
- Since 2006, 8th grade 30-day marijuana use has declined 34.1% and 8th grade 30-day alcohol use declined 59.7% countywide.
- Teen birth rates have declined signfificantly. Since 2009, there has been a 55% reduction in the countywide teen birth rate.
Berkshire United Way also leads the efforts of the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership and Face the Facts – reduce teen pregnancy community coalitions, while working on the Berkshire Youth Development Project collaborative.
Berkshire United Way accomplishes this work with the help of the Positive Youth Development Impact Council, made up of community leaders, providers, educators, experts and more. Learn more about this council here.
If you have any questions or concerns, or are interested in giving your time, talent or gifts to the positive youth development goal area, please contact Nataly Garzon, Coordinator of Youth Development, at 413-442-6948 x 15.
"The biggest thing I've learned is to believe in myself and work as a team. It was hard for me to overcome my stage fright and being anti-social but I enjoyed making new friends."
For a list of funded programs in Positive Youth Development, click here.