Youth Connection, It’s our community’s future.
An Initiative of the Healthy Blair County Coalition

By Coleen Heim, Director of the Healthy Blair County Coalition and Patty Sauka, District Attendance Director at Altoona Area School District

Healthy Blair County Coalition’s Youth Connection Task Force took on the challenge to design a program to reach and engage our community’s youth to share the message they are wanted, they are needed, they are our future. Listen to Coleen Heim, Director of the HBCC, and Patty Sauka, District Attendance Director at Altoona Area School District, talk about the urgency our community is facing concerning youth issues and how to reach adults to share the message we need our youth to grow, to succeed, encourage them to get involved and how to get involved.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Being a mentor means many things, but most importantly it’s being there to help get the person being mentored on to the right path and guiding them along the way. Mentors, as well as those being mentored, learn and grow from the experience that last a lifetime. Having a mentor can make a big difference. Listen about the journey this mentor and mentored took with many curves and challenges along the way.

School Attendance

Patty Sauka, Attendance Director for the Altoona Area School District and Dr. Kathleen Sweeney, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at the Altoona Family Physicians discuss the relationship between student engagement and school attendance and how that affects their practice. Non-attendance can be a consequence of a variety of causes, both visible and underlying. Listen while they discuss the difference between school absenteeism, truancy, and refusal. Then learn about the importance of building bridges from doctor to parent, to parent to school developing communication for the success of our children.

Mentoring Through the Graduate Initiative Program

Matt Kimberlan, a Counselor at the Tyrone Area School District Middle School and coordinator for the Tyrone Graduation Initiative Program and Taylor, one of his recent graduates, discuss how this program and the major difference it has made in her life. Listen to her story and the amazing changes she has made in her life. Her story is similar to a lot of kids that have gone done the wrong road including substance abuse, attempted suicide, and missing 79 school days in one year. This all changed thanks to Matt and the Graduation Initiative Program. Taylor is an inspiration for all youth.

Summit on Connecting Youth In Blair County

Blair County was one of twelve counties across the country to be chosen by the National Association of Counties (NACo) in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Programs to receive community coaching on efforts to reduce childhood poverty.

Across the country, 11.9% of youth are disconnected (not in school or working). In Blair County, 14.4% of our youth are disconnected which is higher than Pennsylvania at 12.3%. If you are involved with youth or are interested on the impact of youth disconnectedness in Blair County, we really need your participation.

The goal of the Summit is to bring together stakeholders to identify the issues and then develop implementation plans to engage youth across Blair County. The five areas of focus are: school attendance, workforce development, school & community interventions, mentoring, and pro-social activities & community engagement.

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