Healthy Plymouth - Youth Engagement is a subcommittee of the Plymouth Youth Development Collaborative (PYDC) and serves as a prevention strategy to reduce drug and alcohol use and abuse. This work originated from the results of a 2013 comprehensive community health assessment that included surveys of Plymouth North and South High School students, interviews and focus groups and was shared at the November 2014 Healthy Plymouth Summit.
The 2014 needs assessment was conducted by Health Resources in Action (HRIA), a public health institute and a leader in developing programs that advance public health and medical research and commissioned by BID-Plymouth. HRIA reported the following:
"Youth Opportunities: A frequent theme in interviews and focus groups was the perception that there are limited affordable entertainment or community activities for young people outside of the school system in the Plymouth area. Students themselves felt this idle time led to boredom and increased involvement in risk-taking behaviors such as using alcohol and drugs. Finding healthy activities and opportunities for engaging young people is a way to strengthen the protective factors in the community."
(Excerpted from Integrating Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Health Care Services: A Community Approach; A Community Behavioral Health Assessment Process; Health Resources in Action (www.hria.org) 2014)
This information was a catalyst for community members to work together to plan and host the first Healthy Plymouth Opportunities Program (HPOP) Job and Career Fair in March of 2015 to connect youth with meaningful jobs and volunteer opportunities. Although there was terrific response from the business community, students and parents, the reality of a transportation barrier in our town concluded that many students could not participate.
This spurred the inception of a dedicated team of volunteers focused on creating or partnering with businesses and organizations to provide a variety of meaningful and free programs for middle and high school students in the Plymouth community. Taking into consideration the transportation barrier students face, we strive to find opportunities on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for high school students, so they can take advantage of the late bus.
Another of our initiatives, the Healthy Plymouth - Terra Cura Garden Partnership, is coordinating school and community gardens with a mission to create a safe, community gathering space to gather and work together growing, maintaining and harvesting healthy food.
We are also focusing our efforts in the North Plymouth community to reduce the transportation barrier and pilot programming that can be replicated in other parts of the town.
Our programming is evolving as we work together as a community to strengthen the protective factors for our youth.
Explore our programs and let us know if you’d like to get involved.
Judi Vigna, Founder, Healthy Plymouth - Youth Engagement