To get Montgomery County officials to listen to their concerns, experiences, insights and ideas, middle school and high school teens from all over the county are preparing an agenda for the next Teen Speak-Out in Silver Spring.
The Montgomery County Youth Advisory Committee [YAC] advises the County Executive and County Council on policy matters impacting youth in the area. Issues like teen pregnancy, curfew, dropout rates, and teen programs are brought to their attention in this type of forum. To end the 2011/2012 school year, teens from all over the region will congregate at the Silver Spring Civic Building on Thursday, May 31st, from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm. During the first part, 3:00 to 6:30 pm, teens will deliberate their issues brought from each region in the county. At 6:30 pm teens will present their topics, issues and recommendations to the panel of county officials. Youth from the audience can ask prescreened questions and address the appropriate person on the panel in regards to their issue. This is the time for all youth from around the county to express their ideas, suggestions, and concerns to county leaders.
Organizers from last year’s YAC Speak Out believe that the event changed the approach to the proposed Curfew Bill proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett. The Department of Transportation re-instated free rides for youth on Ride-On buses from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This year’s event will discuss issues like teen violence, teen pregnancy and teen homelessness.
Montgomery County Recreation offers free programs for teens on a daily basis at their schools or at community recreation center. One of the programs is the Sports Academies, where teens play basketball, soccer and participate in special events staying in school after classes. Students receive help with homework, snacks and a hot meal. Sports Academy programs are located at Blair, Einstein, Paint Branch, Wheaton and Springbrook Montgomery County High Schools.
RecExtra for middle schools is available at a limited number of Montgomery County middle schools, including Col. E. Brooke Lee, Briggs Chaney, Newport Mill, Parkland, William H. Farquhar, Rosa M. Parks, Eastern, John Poole, Kingsview, Takoma Park, Silver Spring International, Benjamin Banneker, and White Oak. RecExtra offers sports, arts, babysitting instruction, step dance and other fun activities. After-Hours Middle School Fun is a program where teens can spend time with their friends and enjoy dancing, sports, video games and special events in their neighborhood recreation center. Another program that is successful is Teen Escape Club that will go countywide next fiscal year.
The Montgomery County Commission on Children and Youth hosted its own youth roundtable at the Silver Spring Civic Building last November. The Commission has prioritized increased access to mental, behavioral and sexual health services as a top issue, along with permanency for children in foster care.