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Forum Highlights Services For Youth

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

The first ever Oswego County Youth Program Forum focused n the youth of Oswego County.

The free event provided a glimpse into the myriad of services available to youth in Oswego County.

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.

girl scout leaders make gloop
Shelia Chace, left, and Judi Knowlton of the Girl Scouts, whip up a batch of gloop during their presentation.

“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.”

“We received wonderful feedback from everyone,” Fenlon added. “Everybody learned something. We are looking forward to planning another forum for next fall.”

Jim Smiley of Catholic Charities described the CYO programs offered to Fulton area youth.

“We try to provide a safe, non-threatening, well-supervised environment where youth can come and meet, make new friends and learn how to interact with their peers in a positive way,” he said.

Catholic Charities’ Pam Thomas described the Amigo Mentoring Project.

The program is a school based mentoring program that matches elementary school children with high school students and provides them with a one-on-one peer relationship for support, guidance and friendship, she explained.

Thomas said she’d like to move the program into as many school districts as want the program. Those interested in more information, can contact Catholic Charities at 598-3980.

The audience also heard about Children’s Respite Services. The program provides services for children with special mental health needs.

Some older programs such as Youth Court and the Youth Advisory Council were featured along with newer programs such as Sibshop, a program geared toward siblings of disabled youngsters.

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

Shelia Chace of the Girl Scouts Council of CNY demonstrated a program that sparks interest in math and science.

She and Judi Knowlton demonstrated one part of the “Badge in a Box” program by whipping up a batch of homemade “slime” called gloop.

Basically it is a mini chemistry lesson that is fun, she explained.

“One of the nice things about this is, sometimes (adults) have lost interest in math and science so they don’t feel comfortable showing youth how to do math and science – everything comes with directions so they don’t have to be an expert, it’s all right there for them,” she said.

The younger kids don’t know they’re learning math and science, she added; “they’re just having a good time doing the project.”

jim smiley talks about CYO
Jim Smiley describes some of the recreation and educational programs available to county youth.

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.

Each agency distributed information about its youth programs.

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