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Column: Creating Youth Master Plan

— Students from both campuses of T.C. Williams High School (King Street Campus and Satellite) were present Saturday, Feb. 9 participating in a forum designed to engage youth in discussions about issues that they care about and affect them within the community. Their input, ideas, thoughts and feedback will go into what is called a Youth Master Plan.

According to Timothy Kennedy, the council appointed commissioner for the Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission, "One of the primary goals of the Commission is to develop a 'Youth Master Plan' that will develop long-term, community-wide priorities for Alexandria youth." He served Saturday as the facilitator for the group that had the task of determining indicators and contributing factors to founded abuse cases within the city of Alexandria. The youth at the table were charged with thinking about the root causes of abuse and determine what could cause abusive behaviors.

The Community Forums are opportunities of engagement and interaction for community members, especially youth, to learn about the process of plan/policy development. The forums are also excellent ways for youth to develop their youth voice and hone their public speaking skills. The final forum will be held Feb. 23 at William Ramsay Recreation Center from 10 a.m. to noon located at 5650 Sanger Avenue on Alexandria's West End. (See 'Developing a Youth Master Plan for Alexandria' at http://alexandriava.gov/).

I want to take the time to thank all persons involved with putting the forums together from the Department of Community and Human Services, the hosting facilities (T.C. Williams King Street, ACPS, Charles Houston Recreation Center and William Ramsay Recreation Center, Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities), and of course the T.C. Williams students (both campuses), Charlotte Clinger, president of Alexandria Youth Council and Design Team member of Youth Master Plan; Haddi Khaleed; Andrew Bangura; Cierra Boyd; Norman Frye; Bre Nee Ruffin; Ricky Neal; Kris Whitehead, and Fahirah Jackson. Thank you for coming out to let your youth voices be heard.

There is still time to come out and participate. The last forum is this Saturday at William Ramsay from 10 a.m. to noon. Please call 703-746-5970 for additional information.

McKenya Dilworth-Abdalla is the Lead Teacher for Student Engagement TC Satellite Campus