The 6th Annual Youth Advisory Council of Fulton County’s Healthy Choices Caring Communities organization attended an overnight retreat in February at Camp Palmer in Fayette
Thirty-six YAC members took part in a variety of interesting youth-led activities and work sessions utilizing the retreat theme of “A Leader is One Who Knows the Way, Goes the Way and Shows the Way,”
HC3 staff organized two large group events to engage youth about community issues during the retreat. The Hunger Banquet randomly divided participants into three classes based on world food distribution and poverty. Participants reacted differently to inequalities in food quality and quantity; some complained, some expressed guilt at the amount of food they received compared to others, and some expressed gratitude for what they had received. Once students realized that food could be shared, members of the high-income table filled their plates repeatedly, and worked to distribute food until everyone had enough to eat.
“This is how poverty will be solved,” said Logan Garrow, YAC participant.
Angie Franklin, director of community services at at the Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission (NOCAC) shattered the myth that homelessness does not exist in Fulton County. “Our homelessness and poverty issues might take on a different appearance than larger cities, but they do still exist in Fulton County,” she said.
Franklin told the retreat attendees that many organizations such as the PATH Center, a homeless shelter in Defiance, run to near full capacity all year round, and work hard to support homeless and struggling individuals and to help them stabilize their lives.
In closing, she spoke about some local successes, such as a former client who now volunteers regularly at the PATH Center to help others. She challenged YAC members to “take the things you are learning here and, as you grow up and start a family, don’t forget about them. Remember to take advantage of opportunities to change policy and to donate when you can.”
A second large group event arranged by HC3 staff was BAFA BAFA a cultural simulation that provided a small-scale experience of cultural diversity and the impact it can have on communication and interaction. The exercise allowed participants to gain a better understanding of cultural differences and the potential for misinterpretation and cultural bias, paired with suggestions on how to work through these differences when they occur.
After 26 hours of fun and learning, the tired teenagers headed home, taking a little more knowledge and experience with them.
Community partners who helped make the retreat a success included: The Open Door, Delta; Jill Stechschulte, Fulton County Extension Office; Sharon Morr, director of health promotion at the Fulton County Health Center; and Carmen Coy, coordinator of Head Start at NOCAC.
To learn more about HC3, visit HC3Partnership.org or contact HC3Partnership@gmail.com.