Pitt County in Top 100 for Young People
By Josh Humphries
The Daily Reflector
September 22, 2010 - Pitt County has been selected as one of the 100 best communities for young people for the second time by America's Promise Alliance.
The recognition, presented by global financial firm ING, honored communities in 37 states that are progressively addressing the issues facing youth. The designation recognizes communities that make youth a priority by implementing programs that help keep children in school and prepare them for college and the 21st-century work force.
Communities submit descriptions of local programs to the national America's Promise Alliance, and 100 top communities are selected. Other communities in North Carolina named to the list this year were Moore County, Fort Bragg/Fayetteville and Durham.
Pitt County also received the designation in 2008.
“Through its innovative and far-reaching programs, Pitt County is taking bold and effective steps to help their young people graduate and lead healthy, productive lives,” Marguerite Kondracke, America's Promise Alliance president and CEO, said.
“Pitt County serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their city and children and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”
Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott said the designation is used to show potential industries or professionals that Pitt County is working for an inclusive and successful community.
“Pitt County is a progressive place to come and live,” Elliott said.
Alice Keene, special projects coordinator for Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation, said the award acknowledges the efforts of various agencies to work together for grants and programs aimed at young people.
“It is a collaborative, across-the-board effort in our community,” Keene said. “It is about everybody in our community looking for ways to support our youth.
The programs represent a step forward in addressing the issues faced by Pitt County's youth, she said.
“We have a lot more need, but I think it acknowledges that we are working together to utilize in the best ways to use the resources we have and to bring new resources into the community to give our students the best chance possible to be healthy, active and well-educated,” Keene said.
Programs like the Teen Leadership Institute, Link Crew, Pitt County Impact Alliance, Student Success Academy, the Volunteen program at Pitt County Memorial Hospital and Teen Court are in place to address the high school drop-out rate, Elliott said.
“These initiatives should help us in incremental ways to address the drop-out issue,” he said.
The Teen Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, is a leadership program designed to help high school sophomores and juniors learn how to serve their community.
The Link Crew program provides training for juniors and seniors to mentor and support incoming freshmen at each of the six public high schools in Pitt County.
Link Crew students also had a significant role in the planning and development of the Pitt County Dropout Prevention Campaign.
The Pitt County Impact Alliance is a countywide coalition to identify and address critical issues. Eleven agencies are partners in the alliance and the agencies hosted 15 forums.
The Student Success Academy targets at-risk students in elementary school and provides academic and life skills training through service learning projects in an effort to decrease the likelihood of dropping out.
The Volunteen program, with about 300 students, is the largest high school volunteer program in North Carolina. Students ages 14-18 gain real-world experience by volunteering in clerical, nursing and transport areas at the hospital.
The Teen Court program offers students in grades 7-12 the opportunity to volunteer as jury members, bailiffs, clerks of court and attorneys, working with adult attorneys and judges to determine constructive sanctions for first-time youth offenders.