ACT Youth Program Takes A New Direction

FULTON, NY – After three productive years, one of the Fulton community’s most effective and respected youth programs, the ACT for Youth program of Oswego County Opportunities, will be heading in a new direction that will allow the program to move forward and continue to be a positive impact on both the community and the youth that it serves.

Established in 2006 as a result of grant obtained by OCO through the NYS Department of Health, ACT for Youth (Assets Coming Together for Youth) is a youth development project in the Fulton community that brings together community agencies and organizations.

ACT’s purpose is to increase opportunities and supports for young people, increase youth engagement and youth voice, and influence organizational and community policy change in a way that incorporates positive youth development.

The ACT Youth Coalition is the group of young people who drive the direction of the program.

They are supported by the Fulton Collaboration for Community Change.

The FCCC are a group of key community stakeholders lead by OCO and includes: Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, Fulton Parks & Recreation Department, Fulton Mayor’s Office, Fulton City School District, Oswego County Catholic Charities, Fulton YMCA, Fulton Community Task Force, Oswego County Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, and BOCES APPS program.

In the late spring of this year, OCO was regretfully informed that the funding for ACT was being discontinued due to the state budget crisis and the reprioritization of dollars.

Upon receiving this news the FCCC immediately shifted focus to sustainability.

The group collaborated to successfully secure an AmeriCorps representative who would continue to lead the ACT Youth Coalition.

The Fulton YMCA stepped up to take the lead on supervising the AmeriCorps volunteer and the future of the initiative was firmly in place.

Kathleen Knopp of OCO’s Youth Services Division, and the manager on the ACT project since its inception, is excited about the change and is looking forward to the new direction the program is headed.

“This will be a new beginning for the ACT for Youth program. This program has received tremendous support from our community partnerships. The city of Fulton Parks and Recreation Department, Catholic Charities’ CYO program, BOCES’ APPS program, the Fulton Mayor’s office, Oswego City-County Youth Bureau and the Fulton Common Council have all been very supportive of our efforts. Their cooperation with ACT for Youth has allowed us to increase opportunities for youth, help youth get involved and be heard in the community, and inspire change the keeps youth ideas in mind,” she said.

In addition to doing a number of community service projects, youth in the ACT program become active in their community and have developed positive relationships with the programs’ adult partners.

“Our adult partners have been very gracious in welcoming our youth. We have two youth spots on the Fulton Parks and Recreation sub-committee who work directly with the counselors and the director. We also have youth who are working with the Fulton School District food service director, serving on the Oswego County Teen Health Counseling planning committee, and attending the Fulton common council meetings. It has been a wonderful experience for our youth as they have really connected with our adult partners and feel comfortable talking with them and sharing their thoughts and ideas regarding their community. It has also helped our adult partners see youth in a positive light that helped them develop a new appreciation for our youth,” said Knopp.

With the Fulton Family YMCA overseeing the ACT Youth Coalition the program will continue to be a positive force in the community.

Executive Director of the Fulton Family YMCA Betty Fadden has been a long-time supporter of the program and anticipates that the Youth Coalition will be an excellent addition to the YMCA.

“This is very beneficial program that involves youth between the ages of 13 and 21. There is a lot of energy and potential in this age group that should be tapped into. It is important that ACT for Youth continues as we want to give youth a voice in our community. From our perspective, this is an opportunity to better incorporate that age group into our organization. I see the YMCA becoming a stronger organization by getting this segment of our population in our facility. As a community mission-driven organization, it allows us all to become stronger. I look forward to continuing the good work we have been doing with our partners and encourage others to join us as we move ACT for Youth into the future,” said Fadden.

Knopp added that ACT for Youth will continue its weekly meetings each Wednesday evening at the Fulton Family YMCA and continue to work hand in hand with its adult partnerships to give youth a meaningful voice in the Fulton community.

“This is an opportunity for us to show youth that change is part of life and that it can be a good thing. What is important is how you present it and how you respond to it. We are pleased that the Fulton Family YMCA has stepped up to continue facilitation of the coalition. They have been a long time supporter and I am confident that they will do an excellent job continuing the mission of ACT for Youth,” added Knopp.

The FCCC will also continue to meet to support the initiative.

The continuation of this valuable program is a result of true community collaboration.

For more information on the ACT for Youth program, to get involved as a Youth Coalition or FCCC member, call Fadden at 598-9622 or Knopp at 342-7532.

OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966 and touches the lives of more than 20,000 people annually.

OCO is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency.

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