Helping Troubled Teens
Joan White was thrilled when Vermont Public Television proposed partnering on a project to give high-risk teens a voice – right to the Legislature. As development director for Spectrum Youth and Family Services, White knows what it's like for high-risk teens. According to one national study, Vermont leads the nation in teen substance abuse and crime rates.
To address these and other critical youth issues, Vermont Public Television (VPT) worked with a coalition of partners that ranged from student organizations to police departments to social service agencies.
The resulting project piggybacked on the statewide tour of a hard-hitting play based on the voices and input of Vermont's youth. Performances were followed by town hall meetings at nine locations, creating an opportunity for dialogue among youth and adults about the needs of Vermont's young people and some policy recommendations.
Then, in conjunction with a youth conference held on Teen Awareness Day, VPT and their partners brought together 100 youth and adults to expand on recommendations that were presented to legislators later that evening.
This project was unique, said White, because teens were an integral part of the process. In fact, they were the focus and driving force behind it, she said. "This was an opportunity to be heard."