After the tragic death of Lauren Daverin-Gresham on the Merrick Road footbridge on Aug. 22, many parents took to the Internet, saying how something needed to be done to keep teenagers safe and off the streets at night.
It is a goal shared by the Rockville Centre Youth Council, which has been working for years to give teenagers in the village something to do.
“We try to do some social event to get the kids off the street,” said Mike Caffrey, the vice chairman of the Youth Council. “It really comes from what the kids want to do.”
The Youth Council was established in 2009 as a way to combat underage drinking and substance abuse among Rockville Centre’s youth. The Youth Council is run by a board of local teens and overseen by adult volunteers. It is the teen board members who decide what activities the Youth Council will host.
“Usually, we do one social event a month,” said Caffrey. “And that’s really sponsored by the local business. Like at the Palace of Wong, we do a Chinese New Year night in January or February.” Other popular events that the group usually hosts are bowling nights and open mic nights — and all the events are decided on by the teens.
“We’re basically youth-driven,” Caffrey said.
In addition to hosting activities for teens, the Youth Council has also worked on a number of awareness campaigns to bring light to issues like substance abuse and the Social Host Law. While the ideas for these campaigns may come from adults or outside groups, it’s the teenaged members of the Youth Council that spearhead the projects.
“Last year we did a T-shirt project that was run by the kids,” Caffrey said. “And the officers last year said that, as adults, we could beat them over the head trying to give awareness of what to do what not to do, but this is what they related to — an artistic venture that was out of the box.”
Though meeting dates for the upcoming year have not yet been set, the Youth Council already knows what its awareness campaign for the year will be. Working with Molloy College and resident Bud Cosgrove, the Youth Council secured a $2,5000 grant from the State Farm Neighborhood Assistance Program.
“The Youth Council will be part of a study to develop and implement an education and training program for local residents with disabilities to accurately anticipate, understand, prepare for, survive and recover from a natural disaster,” said Beth Hammerman, the chairwoman of the Youth Council. “It will be a fabulous experience for the youth of the village to be involved in this type of project, which is hoped will result in a model for other communities.”
The Youth Council is always looking for more student members and adult volunteers, especially local businesses where activities can be hosted. The Youth Council is for teens in grades 9 to 12 and adult volunteers. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.