Forum Highlights Services For Youth

OSWEGO, NY – A variety of services for youth was on display Tuesday at the Oswego Elks Lodge.

The third annual Oswego County Youth Program Forum focused on the youth of Oswego County.

Brian Chetney of the Youth Bureau looks over the informational material on display by one of the other agencies taking part in the youth programs forum.
Brian Chetney of the Youth Bureau looks over the informational material on display by one of the other agencies taking part in the youth programs forum.

The free event provided a glimpse into the myriad of services available to youth in Oswego County. It also demonstrated how those agencies might work together to further enhance services.

Representatives from Oswego County’s human services agencies provided information about the many youth oriented programs that exist in the county and how to properly access them.

The approximately 100 people in attendance had the opportunity to ask questions, gather information and establish contacts with youth service providers.

“The forum offered a broad preview of just what services are available for youth in the county,” noted Kathy Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, one of the sponsors. “Services can change so often and be updated that it is difficult to keep up with current programs. This program allows people to stay on top of the different kinds of services offered in our county.”

The forum was moderated by Jennifer Doherty, a junior at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton.

She did a leadership program with the Rotary Club, and was recommended to be this year’s student facilitator.

“I’ve learned that there are a lot more programs aimed at youth than I knew of before I came here today,” she said. “There is so much offered in this area that can help the youth. I didn’t realize that.”

It was good to see all the different groups together at the forum, working together, she added.

Among the programs highlighted was Peaceful Conflict Resolution.

The program focuses on anger awareness, interpersonal skills development and empathy, according to Ashley Gilbert.

It is offered to youth age 11 and older.

Ashley Gilbert explains about the Peaceful Conflict Resolution program.
Ashley Gilbert explains about the Peaceful Conflict Resolution program.

Nelson Metz explained how Youth Works assists young people with gaining job experience.

“Education is the primary goal, always, for every child that walks through the door,” he said. “We work with young people, age 16 to 21.”

Their marquee program is the summer youth employment program, he said. It provides employment, in many cases first-time employment, to young people for six to eight weeks while school isn’t in session over the summer.

Work experience is limited; Youth Works is offered year-round, but that doesn’t mean a year-round job, Metz explained.

“Hopefully, we’ll get them the skills they need to get out there and get their own jobs,” he said.

Paul Forestiere II provided highlights of Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4-H.

“Cooperative Extension is the agency that does nothing for no one. We don’t do anything. The reason we don’t do anything is because we are not a service agency,” he explained. “Cooperative Extension is an education agency. If you have some desire to learn something, we can find a way to make that happen for you.”

Jim Farfaglia explained about the many programs Camp Hollis and Camp Zerbe have to offer youth – and people of every age.

The audience also heard about programs such as Youth Court, the Youth Advisory Council, AmeriCorps/Vista, as well as newer programs such as Sibshop.

Among the other programs were those that help prevent substance abuse by children and their families, increase youngsters’ love of reading, help youth find employment and earn their high school diplomas or GEDs, provide job training experiences, offer assistance for homeless youth and more.

Several of the agencies distributed information about their youth programs.

“It is important to be aware of the many services provided for youth in Oswego County,” said Fenlon. “The forum gives local agencies and schools an opportunity to learn up-to-date information, and to meet the providers of these services.”

For more information on youth programs, contact the United Way at 593-1900 or the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau at 349-3451.