YMCA hosts community needs discussion

Published 10:05 am Friday, January 19, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The YMCA of Chilton County held a Community Needs Assessment Forum with community leaders on Jan. 18.

Attendees were divided into smaller groups to discuss ideas. When all of the ideas were brought together, mentoring and a youth leadership program were listed as top priorities.

Mentoring had been discussed as important by each of the groups.

Clanton Middle School president Carla White said more support was needed for students in middle school, from warm clothes to classes about proper boundaries and mentoring programs.

Chamber President Jason Calhoun said the Youth Leadership program could be patterned after the Chilton Leadership program that has been offered through the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce.

“We can incorporate with that some soft work skills … One of the things that I think kind of floored us … was that a lot of employees do not have soft work skills … showing up to work on time, dressing appropriately, language that you use when you are in a workplace,” Calhoun said.

Chilton County EMA director Derrick Wright served as the spokesperson for his group.

“Our primary principle was to have youth development for students that are going to start their careers, whether they are going to college or straight into the workforce,” Wright said.

Ideas included mock job fairs, interviews, job shadowing and resume writing skills. Wright said visiting an industry, such as a doctor’s office, would give students a good idea of whether they really that career or not.

YMCA director Lori Patterson said this was the first planning meeting of its type the Y has held.

She said programs at the Y focus on youth development, social responsibility and healthy living.

“I feel like the two areas where we are maybe lagging a little bit behind in our social responsibility and youth development,” Patterson said. “You have been invited here because your opinion is valued.”

Patterson and Y staff will take the top ideas discussed and develop them further before the planning group meets again.

“Some of the ideas that we had was for social media awareness for our families to understand that and how it is impacting our children,” Rebecca Threlkeld said.

Tutoring for students and parents was also suggested, so that parents would also have skills to help their students with homework.

Threlkeld stressed that limited or lack of transportation present challenges  for many  students and parents to attend events. Partnering with areas churches was mentioned as a way to overcome this.

“And also health fairs to teach them what they should be eating and what they should not be eating,” White said.

Other ideas included opportunities for parents who do not speak English to attend classes, Christian family building, Community Service Days hosted by the Y and classes for children and teens about responsible living.

Connie Bainbridge served as facilitator for the event.

The group will meet again in six to eight weeks to further develop the ideas. At the next meeting, community leaders will develop specific plans that Patterson can expand upon and take to the Board of Directors.