The Boys and Girls Club on 9th Street was hustling last night. Parents and children lined up for an immunization clinic and families arriving with excited young basketball teams about to start their first game of the season jostled through the lobby with more than 150 people of all ages and from all walks of life who were there to take part in the You’N-I convening.
Participants were assigned a table and invited to enjoy sandwiches and cookies made by the Boys and Girls Club. Friends re-united, networking ensued, and introductions were made, all made more animated by the voices of 60 young people.
Chris Askin welcomed the group and explained the meeting’ format. Katy Simon, former County Manager led a panel discussion with six youth who were or are homeless. Interesting questions included, “What would you tell your younger self?” A young woman living in a group home said, “Be nicer, not everyone is out to hurt you.” One young man told about being seriously ill in the hospital with meningitis and being transformed in his dreams. Upon his recovery he joined a program at the Children’s Cabinet. Another talked about being counseled by fellow in-mates at juvenile hall – they were going to prison after their 18th birthday, he could and did choose another route.
Each table facilitator then opened the envelopes directing the table’s topic of discussion. We conversed for 10 minutes and ding! – moved on to a different table and different conversation. People dropped by different tables every 5 minutes, lured by the table topic or snacks ( I was at the Starburst table discussing Health and Dental Care issues).
At 8:00 PM the meeting wrapped up with each table facilitator reporting the dominate themes of their conversations to the entire room. The facilitator notes and table chart pads were collected, stipends given to struggling youth, and emails and phone numbers were gathered from those who want to be involved in the process and progress of You’N-I.
We look forward to engaging and including many more community members. Are you interested? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will keep you in the loop.
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