Each year, one week in April is designated by the PA Legislature as “Local Government Week” honoring the dedication of Pennsylvania’s local officials and encouraging citizens to learn how local government functions and affects each resident and business in the community. During this week, the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services has made a tradition of hosting a Local Government Day celebration, featuring the presentation of the Governor's Awards for Local Government Excellence to recognize local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities.
This year the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence with the theme of “Building Community Partnerships” has been awarded to the Schuylkill County Youth Summit. The goal of the Youth Summit is to engage, equip and support Schuylkill County youth in building their own future in Schuylkill County. Commissioner Gary Hess is pleased that this partnership among Schuylkill County youth and government, businesses, nonprofits and private citizens has received the award. Hess notes, “The Youth Summit is a true example of success. It shows how we all succeed when we work together and build community partnerships. By engaging our younger citizens in the process, we begin to construct a road to a bright future for Schuylkill County .”
The other Schuylkill County Commissioners are also proud of the honor. Commissioner Chairman George Halcovage noted “The youth of our community have stepped forward and are now taking leadership roles in providing us with initiatives and plans for the future. At the helm of this effort is our Youth Summit and our county will benefit from their zeal and care for all citizens throughout Schuylkill County.” Commissioner Staudenmeier agreed. “The most valuable resource we have in Schuylkill County is the youth of our community----the Youth Summit initiative has proven to be very beneficial to engage our youth in making them aware of the challenges that lie ahead and how they can make a difference as our leaders of tomorrow”
The Schuylkill County Youth Summit engages youth from all area schools in addressing issues they have identified as important to youth. This year’s summit topic is blight. Students have chosen projects for their school districts that will address blight in many ways: in parks, neighborhoods and school property. Although the full summit meets only once a year, throughout the school year a group of students called Youth Ambassadors meets every month to address issues. This year the Youth Ambassadors worked with a youth lead executive committee. A community advisory group is active in providing resources and support to the summit. Another community group is addressing jobs issues identified by the students. The Schuylkill County Youth Summit is facilitated by Schuylkill County’s VISION.