Community Summit Sparks Dialog on Social Issues Related to Youth and Families

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a group of hig-school students pose with rapper Big Boi Patton at the 2009 community summit

The Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority (YFA) recently hosted its 2009 Community Summit, “Kids Matter! Securing the Futures of Our Youth & Families.” The Georgia Family Connection collaborative organization’s ninth annual summit, held at the Savannah Civic Center, featured two days of presentations and sessions intended to increase the community dialog on social issues related to young people and families.

One of the highlights of the Summit was “Family Engagement Night: A Call to Action,” featuring Antwan “Big Boi” Patton of the Grammy Award-winning duo Outkast, and founder and CEO of The Big Kidz Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to developing socially conscious youth.

Antwan "Big Boi" Patton gives his keynote at the Youth Summit

In his keynote address, Patton challenged Savannah officials, community leaders, and educators to use their resources to “Save our Villages.” He also urged youth to become leaders and to use their words wisely to improve their future.

Over the course of two days, the Summit engaged local residents, neighborhood and community leaders, social and human-service providers, local and state officials, and representatives from the public and private sectors. These key stakeholders were invited to participate in learning opportunities to address YFA’s priority areas—educational success, child health (teenage pregnancy), early childhood development, and juvenile delinquency prevention.

“The YFA Annual Summit is our way of having a conversation with the public as it relates to children and youth issues,” said Edward Chisolm, YFA executive director and coordinator for the Chatham County Collaborative. “It gives us an opportunity to check in with our key stakeholders, as well as with various members of the broader community. We’re able to hear their concerns and opinions about what we’re doing and how we should move forward on critical issues.”

Taifa Butler, director of Policy and Communications at Georgia Family Connection Partnership , demonstrated the value of collaboration in building strong communities at the Summit’s opening luncheon. Mindy Binderman, advocacy director at Voices for Georgia’s Children, kicked off the Summit’s second day with a discussion on legislative hot topics and the importance of advocacy during a community breakfast that focused on the Georgia Birth to Five Coalition. Sessions on day two highlighted the juvenile code, teenage pregnancy prevention, public school education, and early childhood health care.

“The Summit is also an opportunity to share with the community our ongoing work and our plan of action for youth and families,” said Chisolm.

YFA released to the community participating in the Summit its 18th Annual Community Profile, a status report on the well-being of children and youth in Chatham County. YFA uses the Profile to guide its areas of importance and interest in addressing its work to improve the health and well-being of children, as well as helping families to become stable and self-sufficient .

The YFA Community Summit provides updates on strategies and initiatives; promotes healthy children and families; facilitates a forum for dialog; and recognizes effective practices and exemplary service to children and families of the Chatham-Savannah community.

For more information, visit the Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority Web site.

Read related story in the Savannah Morning News.

ZaDonna M. Slay, MSW
Program & Evaluation Manager
Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority

William Valladares
Communications Coordinator
404-527-7394 (x114)