A Publication of WTVP

School's out, and summer is just starting to warm up. That means parents and local youth will be looking for activities to keep busy throughout the next few months. As a community, we're constantly looking toward the future-a key component of which lies in the potential of our youth. As community leaders, we must recognize that supporting our children is a necessity.

The responsibility of nurturing youth can be answered in many ways. The opportunities and challenges facing our children as they move from their formative years to adolescence and onto adulthood can be overwhelming, but communities across the country-including the Peoria area-are finding more and more ways of working together to create a positive future for our youth.

To become successful adults, youth need a sense of safety, belonging, purpose, and self-worth. They also need to have their basic needs met while they develop healthy social habits, communication, and citizenship skills. To thrive, children must acquire healthy behaviors and attitudes. Youth development programs that focus on building these competencies show that children who are in preschool, after school, and arts programs are more likely to develop a greater sense of purpose and have stronger educational aspirations.

Summer youth programs are just one component of youth development. The programs offer youth a chance to have experiences that enhance and complement their studies in school. There are a variety of structured activities offered in numerous neighborhoods, so they're easily accessible. In addition, these programs show how many local agencies collaborate as they share resources such as transportation, facilities, health education, etc. Youth who participate in summer programs experience field trips, day camps, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, technology, and even community service.

Throughout the year, the Peoria area's health and human service industry offers comprehensive youth services focusing on prevention, intervention, and education that nurture and mentor our youth from early childhood onward. Participating in summer programs often is just the first step. With year-round opportunities for learning good social skills, obtaining mentoring, exploring careers, and participating in educational programs, Peoria area youth are well on their way to a successful future-and so is our community. IBI