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Voinovich School coordinates summit to assist adult allies of youth-led programs

Daniel Kington
November 12, 2015

The Voinovich School has been working in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network to coordinate a statewide training for adult leaders of youth-led programs. The adult leader summit, titled “Creating Opportunities for Youth to Lead: Building Skills to Produce Community Change,” will be held Dec. 4 and will feature national experts in the fields of youth development, education and community health. 

Jessica Collura, Voinovich School research associate, is working with the planning committee for the summit. “In order for young people to create meaningful change, they need strong adult allies who are guiding them through the process,” Collura said. “This summit is designed for adult allies who are assisting young people in leading local change efforts. It’s an opportunity for adults to come together to bolster their own skills, and critically think about the ways in which they’re helping young people build the skills that are necessary for creating change in their own communities.”

The adult leader summit will include a morning session and interactive afternoon workshops. The panel presentation in the morning will feature Stephanie Krauss with the Forum for Youth Investment, experienced community health psychologist Debra Holden, specialist in creativity and creative learning Susan Keller-Mathers, and educator Anthony Colannino. The speakers will focus, respectively, upon readiness abilities and practices, the role of adult allies, creative problem solving and growth mindset.

In addition to the panel presentation, each of these speakers will also facilitate afternoon breakout sessions, during which attendees will have the opportunity to engage with speakers in small groups for hands-on learning experiences. Participants will spend one hour in each breakout session.

“As opposed to just having 200 people in the audience with someone delivering one large presentation, these adult leaders are going to be in groups of 40 to 50 and attend small sessions where they get to really interact with experts in the field,” Collura said.

Holly Raffle and Jessica Collura selected the speakers by analyzing the research on youth-led programs, reflecting on the needs of current adult leaders and matching those needs with experts who could speak at the summit. Under the leadership of Dr. Raffle, multiple faculty and professional staff members at the Voinovich School have been involved in coordinating the event, as has one Undergraduate Research Scholar, Kate Pellegrini. Pellegrini, an Ohio University student studying communications, produced a majority of the promotional materials for the event.

Collura explained that this summit fits within the Voinovich School’s larger mission through its focus on community outreach.

“We’re right at that cusp of research and practice, which I think is a critical role for the Voinovich School,” Collura said.