Passing the Baton to the Next Generation

To shape a world where everyone is empowered to be all that they are created to be, regardless of the zip code in which they happen to live, it is essential to empower our the next generation.  

Tapping into the rich assets of the next generation is both exhilarating and challenging as generations, past and present, seek to find common incentives to build relationships, learn from each other, and work together for collective impact in our communities and world. 

On April 14, 2021, Alliance engaged Well-Being in Rural Communities’ (WRC) counties in its final All-Grantee meeting.  During this meeting, the counties sought approaches to leverage the inherent assets of young people to develop well-being and healthy communities. 

Highlights from the All-Grantee meeting included presentations from thought-leaders with expertise in the fields of education, juvenile justice, and prevention. 

Young people need to feel a sense of belonging in their communities — to be plugged in and involved in controlling their own destiny. Their voices matter and are critical toward building the next generation leaders in our communities, cities, and counties. According to Robert M. Francis, Juvenile Justice and Behavioral Consultant, and presenter at the All-Grantee meeting, we must give room for young people to have a seat at the decision-making table. Only in this way do they define a sense of purpose for themselves and their community. 

Cultivating young people for leadership is a powerful benefit in any community — particularly in those that have been marginalized.  Not only can young people be a catalyst for change, but they are also prolific communicators in social movements. Research shows that when young people participate in collaborative movements, the possibilities are limitless for their personal growth and the betterment of community. 

Young Organizers Circle is a youth-engagement program introduced to WRC by Prevention Institute at the All-Grantee meeting. The program includes a monthly session that connects young leaders across the globe in shared learning experiences that ignite them as the visionaries they are today.   

At the meeting’s conclusion, the counties were provided strategic tools to begin the process of engaging the next generation in their communities.  

Currently, Alliance is the coordinator for the Collaborative Approaches to Well-Being in Rural Communities (WRC) program, funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. For the past three years, Alliance has collectively guided WRC— which includes five rural counties in Texas: Bastrop, Brooks, Morris, Nacogdoches, and Victoria— through its Collaborative Building Process, Discover, Define, and DevelopTM and strategic roadmap for establishing a common agenda to improve mental health and well-being in their communities. 

As a result, all five counties are engaging diverse voices and historically excluded groups in their collaborative work.

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