Oswego – Representatives of more than two dozen human services agencies from Oswego County (and Syracuse) gathered recently to learn and share information about programs available to youth and families.
Elim Grace Church, West First Street, played host to the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau’s forum in partnership with the United Way of Greater Oswego County.
“Hopefully participants got something out of this today. Whether they’ve been in the field forever or if they’re new, they’ll learn a little bit more about each program,” said Brian Chetney, executive director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau and chair of the event’s planning committee.
Garrette Weiss of CiTi presented information regarding what services could be found at their main campus in Mexico and beyond.
They serve about 21,000 per year, he said.
Some of the educational services they offer include the Center for Career and Community Education, Career and Technical Education, New Visions programs, heavy equipment programs and more.
For more information, email: [email protected]
Annette Soule of New Justice Conflict Resolution Services explained how that program works.
They have been in the community since 1983. Mediation in a nutshell, she said, is a service that is free to the community. Participation is voluntary and confidential, she added.
She facilitates discussions between the two parties in hopes of coming up with a plan that they can be satisfied with, how to best resolve their differences.
For more information: www.newjusticeservices.org
Deputy Kristy Krast of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office shared the various services and programs they offer aimed at putting youth on the right track and keeping them out of trouble.
STOP is a program they offer aimed at new drivers.
They also offer the Operation Safe Child program.
“It helps us if anything should happen to the child,” she explained of the identification program for young children.
The office also has Project Lifesaver that helps locate older people that, for whatever reason, become disorientated and wander away. It can also be used, for example, to help children with autism that get lost, she added.
“The Sheriff’s Association’s Summer Camp is a program for young children. They get to spend a week with members of law enforcement and get to know them in a good light,” she said.
Sgt. Laurie Burger has been with the Oswego Police Department for about 9 years and the last 5 she has been dealing with juvenile issues, she said.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the DARE program anymore to educate kids about the dangers of drugs,” she said. “We try to work with families on training kids and educating them about the real dangers regarding drugs as well as bullying, harassment and other things.”
OPD works with several other agencies and organizations as well as parents.
As the School Resource Officer at Oswego High School, she works with the counselors as well as the students. One of the big issues there is the bullying and harassment, she said.
She was surprised by the amount of absenteeism and drug use by students.
“I was shocked to find that a lot of it is starting at the middle school age. It’s the obvious drugs, marijuana. If they’re around you, you can smell it. Now they are getting smarter with what they’re using,” she said.
Some are so innocuous that someone could be using 20 feet away and you’d never know it, she added.
She said she’d like to work with more agencies and educate them, as well as learn from them.
“Because there are more people out there that know more about this (new) stuff than we (law enforcement) do,” she said.”Education is the best tool to help prevent drug abuse.”
Lee Livermore of the Upstate New York Poison Center, agreed.
He encouraged everyone to program the center’s number (1-800-222-1222) into their cell phones.
“Drugs are poisons,” he said.”Drugs are good. Drugs serve a purpose.”
The lines between the two are blurred, he added.
Caffeine is a drug and it is legal. Tobacco is a drug and it is legal. And then, there is alcohol, another legal drug.
“We’re starting this pathway where we’re using legal substances to enhance our experiences,” he pointed out. “It’s OK if we’re adults, because we’re responsible.”
However, for some, the pathway continues to marijuana and more.
He also warned of the dangers of “look alikes” to young children.
Candies can be mistaken for medicine, laundry detergent can be mistaken for juice, he said, adding that there are many other possibilities.
“At the poison center, we’re typically at the cutting edge of whatever is being presented in the emergency rooms,” he explained. “By calling the hotline, you’re going to reach an expert in poison – it doesn’t have to be an emergency. It could be just for information. If you’re curious about something, these experts have files of everything and could assist you in preventing an accidental overdose, or worse.”
“This was a great opportunity for youth services providers to come together and show the community what they have to offer the youth of Oswego County, as well as inform them about careers and employment opportunities that exist in their organization,” Chetney said.
Among the other agencies participating in the forum were: Oswego YMCA (342-6082), County of Oswego Council on Alcoholism and Addictions (342-2370 or 598-6707), Farnham Family Services (342-4489 or 593-0796), AmeriCorps / Youth Bureau (349-3451), DSS (963-5445), ARISE (342-4088), and the United Way (593-1900) and several others.
For more information regarding programs for youth, call Chetney at 349-3451 or e-mail [email protected]