WATERTOWN — When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the north country, many events in the area were canceled altogether or postponed for dates still to be determined.
Following the awarding of a grant from the Youth Services Bureau for about $10,000 to both Pivot Prevention and Health Services and the Alliance for Better Communities, it was decided that the money would go toward a Youth Leadership Summit originally set to take place at Jefferson Community College over the summer, according to Kelli J. Liscum, a counselor and prevention educator with Pivot.
“We want the youth to be able to be a part of something bigger,” she said. “So, in order for change to happen, we have to have people that are willing to advocate for that change, and what better than the youth? They are the future.”
Due to ongoing restrictions on large gatherings of people, and in place of cancelling the event, the in-person summit has switched to a series of virtual workshops for Jefferson County students in grades nine through 12.
The first of the virtual workshop events will take place Wednesday. The summit will continue on Oct. 21 and 28 and conclude on Nov. 4. Each event will run from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Featuring workshops like “Healthy Relationships” presented by Planned Parenthood and “I am Little Red,” a presentation by the Victims Assistance Center and Child Advocacy Center on human trafficking, topics will range from youth advocacy, LGBTQ+ allyship, substance abuse and suicide prevention to money management, student loans and career connections.
Students may visit their guidance counselors for information on how to register for the summit or contact Pivot at 315-788-4660.
On Nov. 4, the last day of the summit, a nationally known duo known as M&P Presentations will give their own presentation on unstoppable leaders as the keynote speakers of the event. According to Ms. Liscum, the two bring a very high energy, interactive and engaging program so the students viewing from home won’t just sitting in front of the Zoom screen.
“That was one of our biggest worries, we didn’t want them to be just sitting in front of a screen and doing another zoom presentation, so this is like a Zoom meeting that they’ve never attended before,” she said. “I hope that students come away with a better sense of leadership skills, a better sense of advocacy skills and how to influence the leaders that will bring about the changes we need.”