High school students are eager to know what jobs are in the area and how they can go about obtaining them, according to results released from a recent youth leadership seminar.
In an effort to foster leadership potential in area youth, The Tribune-Democrat, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and AmeriCorps-Pennsylvania Mountain Service Corps formed a partnership and hosted the seminar Oct. 10 at the Heritage Discovery Center.
The goal was to help high school students become better problem-solvers, innovators, collaborators and communicators, all while brainstorming ideas on what they can do to better the community.
A total of 128 students from 13 high schools from Cambria and Somerset counties were represented.
Business and community leaders served as facilitators and worked in groups with the students and led them through discussions on topics that covered community, leadership/service, peer pressures, education/employment and resources/support.
Following the seminar, input from the students was collected.
Data show that, in general, students feel the Johnstown area has a lot to offer in terms of being a good place to grow up and raise a family, but they feel they need more information on the employment front to keep them here.
“What stood out the most to me was the need for us as a community to be able to pull together and do a better job of informing young people what job opportunities actually do exist in the area,” said Rick Huffman, superintendent of Windber Area School District and an organizing committee member. “We need to develop an online database that links everything together where students can see job opportunities, but we need someone to coordinate that.”
Huffman said it also was interesting to see that students welcomed the chance to interact with students from other schools.
“We need to continue to provide more opportunities that go beyond what is considered the traditional educational setting and have events like this where students can come together and provide feedback,” he said.
Huffman believes the seminar and subsequent events could be the spark that ignites youth to become strong community leaders.
“We want to replicate this on an annual basis and see it grow to where we can include more students because it’s a great way to interface with facilitators and share opinions and for them to belive in some way they are making a difference,” he said.
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