I am very excited to announce that today Washington County was named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING. The national award was given to Washington County to recognize its outstanding and innovative work in addressing the high school dropout crisis and for its programs and services that make it an outstanding place for youth to live, learn and grow.
Earlier this year, Teens Have Choices had the privilege of coordinating Washington County’s application for consideration as a “100 Best” community. It wasn’t difficult to demonstrate how Washington County prioritizes and supports our youth, particularly our vulnerable youth, through many collaborative efforts to deliver what America’s Promise Alliance calls the Five Promises:
- Caring Adults: Every child needs support and guidance from caring adults in their families, schools, and communities. These include positive relationships with teachers, mentors, neighbors, coaches, and youth volunteers.
- Safe Places: Every child needs and deserves to be physically and emotionally safe in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, communities, and on the Internet.
- A Healthy Start: All children need healthy bodies, healthy minds, and healthful habits. These result from access to health care, regular health checkups and needed treatment, good nutrition and exercise, health education, and positive role models who demonstrate good physical and psychological health.
- Effective Education: We believe it is critical that all young people 1) receive an effective education; 2) graduate from high school on time; and 3) graduate ready to pursue post-secondary education.
- Opportunities to Help Others: All children and youth need and deserve the chance to make a difference – in their families, schools, communities, nation and world – through having models of caring behavior, awareness of the needs of others, a sense of personal responsibility to contribute to the larger society, and opportunities for volunteering, leadership and service.
According to America’s Promise Alliance, “children who receive at least four of the Five Promises are much more likely than those who experience only one or zero Promises to succeed academically, socially and civically. They are more likely to avoid violence, contribute to their communities and achieve high grades in school.”
Receiving at least four of the Five Promises also appears to mitigate gaps across racial and economic boundaries. To experience the full power of the Promises, young people must experience these critical supports throughout their lives — in their families, at schools and out in their communities.”
Testimonials from two Washington County youth, Kaylee Adelsberger, and Bryce Ruppenthal – both from Springfield Middle School – were included in support of the application. At the time of the application, May 2012, Kaylee was in 7th grade and Bryce was in 8th grade.
Being named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best is an incredible honor for our entire community. The people and agencies who work with youth in this community have formed such a strong collaborative network over the past few years. This recognition shines a spotlight on our exceptional youth, as well as the exceptional adults who are working on their behalves, including parents, teachers, grantmakers, and local government leaders. I’m so very proud!!
The 2012 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING competition winners will be announced via live webcast from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The webcast can be viewed from the America’s Promise website starting at 12 noon ET on September 12 and can be followed via Twitter (@FivePromises and @TeensHaveChoice) through the hashtag #100Best2012. ABC7/WJLA-TV anchor Leon Harris will host the event, which also features remarks from America’s Promise and ING Foundation.