CARTHAGE — In the past year, Encompass Recreation has surpassed its own expectations to provide opportunities for all children. The program’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Jefferson County Youth Bureau presented the program, which aims to “provide high-quality local recreational events where every child feels challenged, safe, encouraged and included,” with the “It Takes a Community” award during the 2023 Youth Recognition Awards luncheon April 27.

“We are so thankful to have been recognized by the Jefferson County Youth Bureau for the ‘It Takes a Community’ award, because that is our goal; to create a community where kids with higher support needs, and their family find belonging,” said Kylie Schell, founder of Encompass Recreation.

The mission of the Jefferson County Youth Bureau is to provide, promote and expand opportunities for the positive development of all young people in Jefferson County. The Youth Bureau provides funding and support for programs that enhance the academic, social, emotional and personal development of children and youth.

According to Karen Marcum, Youth Bureau Director, the youth recognition awards are presented annually to recognize the outstanding achievement of young people in the areas of volunteerism, leadership and overcoming odds. Adults who work with and support young people are also recognized for their impact and commitment to youth and their families.

Ms. Marcum said the ‘It Takes A Community’ award recognizes adults who have shown an outstanding commitment to bettering the lives of young people and their families.

“We received an award nomination for Encompass Recreation from a community member and the Youth Bureau Advisory Board felt they were deserving of this award, in part, due to the information we received,” said Ms. Marcum.

“Encompass Recreation, during its short tenure, has already significantly changed local programming for youth with higher support needs,” states the nomination. “Often those of us that have children with higher support needs feel isolated — like we don’t belong. Encompass events make us feel like we are with family. There is no one looking when my son takes off and has to be wrangled. There is no one judging — the happy squeals he is making because he is so happy. We can relax and enjoy.”

The nominator also pointed out that the youth and adult volunteers create an environment where participants feel safe and supported.

The nomination included quotes from others.

“Today was the first time ever, that I looked around and felt like we found our people. It was very, very special for us.”

“It was amazing to see the kids just being themselves, and the parents enjoying the event so much.”

“This was a very relaxing calm event as a parent. I didn’t have to worry about anyone judging my kid!” “Truly inclusive. No judgment and everyone was having a great time!”

“He was smiling ear to ear and is still practicing dribbling at home with his new basketball. He’s nonverbal but we could tell he loved it!”

The Youth Bureau also presented two youth awards and two other awards to adults during the luncheon.

The Youth Leadership Award recognizes a young person who has been involved in leadership roles in the school and/or community and demonstrates strong impact of the leadership on other youth, which went to Kenneth Zehr.

The Youth Overcoming Odds Award recognizes a young person who has made significant improvement representing long-term changes and is succeeding in their goals which was awarded to Layla Rogers.

John Carbone was awarded the Outstanding Adult Youth Worker Award which recognizes an individual who has paid employment in the youth service, recreation, or education field and has made significant impacts within a school and/or community.

The Promising Ability in Youth Services Award recognizes an individual who has shown outstanding ability and has demonstrated a commitment to a career working with young people. This awardee must have entered the youth service, recreation, or education field within the last three years. The 2023 recipient of the Promising Ability in Youth Services Award is Joseph Thomas who works for Children’s Home of Jefferson County serving Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties.

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