By Kathie Newell for the HDN
My husband and I have lived in Havre for about 22 years, and have been blessed with the opportunity to raise two sons here. I honestly believe, and often tell prospective newcomers to town, that this is a great place to raise a family. But I also believe that we must never get comfortable in the status quo, and that there always is room for improvement.
Therefore, I welcomed the chance to get involved in the group that was looking at ways to strive toward "Healthy Communities n Healthy Youth." Following a survey taken last spring by more than 1,000 Havre students, the group planned a community meeting to apprise our friends and neighbors of what we are doing well as a community, and what we can work at doing better. The ultimate mission of "Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth" is to provide assets with which our youth can build promising futures.
At the Oct. 28 community meeting, more than 100 folks joined us for the opportunity to interact with some of our community's youth. It was inspiring to see the youthful faces among us and to hear their voices speak up to ask us to work together with them to build healthier youth and healthier communities.
Out of the small group discussions that night came great and small suggestions for building assets for our youth. The suggestions ranged from simple ones like looking our youth in the eyes and saying "hello," to taking a sincere interest in the kids in our neighborhoods, to leaving our porch lights on when we're home so kids in the neighborhood know which houses to go to in case they need help. Other ideas were including youth members in our community service organizations; becoming Secret Spiritual Sponsors to youth in our faith congregations; local churches sponsoring a get-together each month for the city's kids; revitalizing the McGruff House or the Safe House program; encouraging family game nights; and, working on ways to get adults and youth who aren't already involved involved.
As a community member who believes we have a lot of assets going for us, I would like to commend the students who took time out of their busy schedules to share their priceless insight with us on Oct. 28. I would like to thank the adults who etched time out of their hectic lives to come and learn more about what we can do to continue to help our kids and therefore help our community. And, I would like to encourage everyone to get involved, even in small ways, to help build assets for our youth. Each of us stands to benefit from providing our kids with the tools it takes to build productive futures for themselves. Our kids truly are our best natural resource. Let's invest all we've got in them.
Kathie Newell is a longtime member of the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees.