By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A Havre organization and a regional anti-poverty group are teaming up to try to help youths all over north-central Montana.
Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth and the Northcentral Montana Community Ventures Coalition are joining efforts to build assets in young people, with a pilot project proposed for Havre, Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and Great Falls.
"That offers a lot bigger perspective for the assets process. It doesn't just localize it to this community; it spreads it out and regionalizes it," said Tim Maroney, a pastoral associate at St. Jude's Catholic Church who co-chairs the Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth steering committee.
A meeting was held earlier this month to plan how the two organizations could work together to build positives for community youths. The Rev. Brad Ulgenes of First Lutheran Church said he hopes people attend the next Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth meeting on Oct. 13 to continue the effort.
"We'd love to have people who are interested in building assets in youth," he said.
Havre Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth was formed after the national Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth program conducted a survey of youths in the community to learn their perceptions about positive and negative influences in their lives.
Cascade County Commissioner Peggy Beltrone, co-chair of the Community Ventures Coalition steering committee, said today that teaming with the Havre faith-based organization is a natural fit.
The anti-poverty coalition, which received $11 million in grant funding from the Northwest Area Foundation of Minneapolis in December 2003, identified building strengths in young people as a primary long-term goal, Beltrone said.
"Who would argue with making our young people as healthy as they can be?" she asked.
The coalition is also working with Alliance for Youth in Great Falls in the pilot program for Havre, Rocky Boy and Great Falls, and is seeking funding to hire a part-time coordinator in each community to oversee asset-building activities, she said.
Misty Geer, youth employment specialist at District IV Human Resources Development Council, said activities organized by Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth help youths develop self-confidence, involvement in community activities and a support network with their peers and adults.
"We're trying to involve youth as much as possible in different activities and different things we think youths would be interested in," she said.
The group's activities have included a New Year's Eve celebration for young people, and a car show for young people at Havre Festival Days this year.
Maroney, whose job as pastoral associate includes strengthening youths' religious faith, said the activities have been successful. Part of that success is in getting the young people involved in the planning process, he said.
The youths are realizing that holding an event, like a dance, takes a lot of work and interaction with the community, he said.
He said a goal of holding the activities is to get young people involved in other activities.
"What we're hoping is that the young people will choose to come to and be welcomed into many of the activities that are already taking place," he said.
The meeting of the advisory council of Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth will be at noon on Oct. 13 in the Conference Room in the Robins School.