Letter to the editor: Teens 4 change a success

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Teens 4 change a success

Teens 4 Change began six years ago as a resource for Bennington youth to participate in their community and get involved in impactful local decisions. The youth group is supported by United Counseling Service and provides opportunities for youth to gain self-esteem, self-worth, and valuable life skills through youth-driven activities.

The ever-evolving group has earned many accomplishments since it began and is widely recognized throughout the state as a model for youth engagement. Major projects such as the Bennington Youth Summit and the Youth Community Action Team have been spearheaded by the group. The teens also participate in local community events such as Bowl for Kids' Sake or Mayfest, and organize local downtown cleanup weekends to give back, earning significant community recognition.

That local recognition has turned national, as Teens 4 Change becomes the first Vermont chapter of the Youth M.O.V.E National Organization. Youth M.O.V.E (Motivating Others through Voices of Experience) is a youth-led organization working to unite the voices and causes of youth. Their ultimate goal is to empower youth to be partners in change and raise awareness around youth issues. Teens 4 Change will be added to the over eighty chapters nationwide, and the first in Vermont.

This is a huge accomplishment for the teens, and demonstrates their commitment to improving and participating in making a difference in the community. It's incredible to think that a local group of teens here in Bennington is now part of a larger national organization that will help to expand on past success and support the continued development of a positive youth culture in the community.

Additionally, Teens 4 Change is starting to plan for the 2016 Bennington Youth Summit and is welcoming anyone who would be interested in the planning stages for the event. The summit is a daylong event focused on a Healthy State of Mind for teens, with breakout sessions and mental health moments throughout the day on various topics. Last year, over 70 youth from surrounding areas and Bennington County participated in the summit.

— Henry Kelly-Mattern, UCS staff member providing support to Teens 4 Change


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