The Positive Youth Development Impact Council is a Berkshire United Way countywide, community-led coalition that aims to increase youth access to positive, healthy opportunities in our communities. Using a collective impact model, our population goals for the coalition are to increase high school graduation rates, reduce teen pregnancy, reduce substance abuse, increase protective factors, and lower risk factors. We are realizing the importance of building future college and career plans for youth to address these goals through the following strategies:
- Building Awareness on the importance of positive youth development
- Providing Professional Development opportunities for youth workers
- Improving Resource Coordination between agencies to improve access to resources for youth and families
- Creating opportunities for Family Engagement and parent education
- Connecting Multiple Reinforcing Activities together to reach our goals
Humans of the Berkshires
Since we started conducting the Prevention Needs Assessment Survey in 2007, a critical data point that has always stood out - our youth do not feel that their community and neighbors recognize their successes and are supporting their aspirations.
Berkshire County has adapted the successful Humans of New York social media campaign to create a countywide forum that celebrates the rich lives of local youth as well as the abundant, positive, intergenerational interactions in the area. Humans of the Berkshires is a campaign aimed at featuring the diverse talents and interests of young people 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 youth contributing to the growth of our community to be celebrated.
Michelle Bienvenue, school adjustment counselor at Taconic High School has said, "I think this project is so great because we as school personnel get to see all the incredible things students do all day long, but now everyone else does too!"
Humans of the Berkshires launched in May 2016 with a profile of Mason Papirio of Pittsfield High School who said, "My family inspires 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 Humans of the Berkshires Facebook page and follow Humans of the Berkshires on Instagram. To nominate an individual between the ages of 14 and 25 for Humans of the Berkshires, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.