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Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Stonington, Maine.
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by Kimberly Grindle
When you were 17, did you know where you were headed in life? That’s part of the focus of the Healthy Peninsula’s Ready by 21 coalition. The Ready by 21 emerging adulthood work group met on May 31 at the Deer Isle-Stonington High School to continue discussions about the direction the program would take next.
According to Healthy Peninsula’s website, Ready by 21 is a program that works to ensure that “all youth are ready for life, ready for work, and ready for college.” The website also states that “community stakeholders are mobilized to strengthen existing resources, identify gaps where we need more support, and implement new programs for youth and children.”
Started in spring of last year, the organization has already started programs in the community to fulfill its goal. A “Real World 101” class was offered at Deer Isle-Stonington High School, teaching students “skills for life,” on topics such as food, work, transportation, shelter and relationships. In May, Ready by 21 co-sponsored a job shadow day for high school students. Another part of Ready by 21 is an early childhood work group that hopes to “ensure that all infants receive home visitation services, all toddlers are appropriately screened for developmental delays, and all children have access to quality preschool.”
The work group coalition is a further part of the Ready by 21 program and is an opportunity for community members to become involved in the future directions that the program will take. This was the second meeting of the group. Chairman Kyra Alex and Healthy Peninsula Director Amy Vaughn ran the meeting. In attendance were approximately 20 community members of varying ages and backgrounds.
The meeting started with discussion of an overview of the previous meeting of the work group. Some topics brought up were creating a mentor program that would pair adults with youth from high school to the age of 22; gathering input from youth in the age groups of 17 to 22 and also those past that stage, in the 23 to 28 age bracket; and finally creating a program that supports many different kinds of transitions into adult life, such as college, parenthood or pursuing a career.
Vaughn also drew attention to materials handed out at the meeting, specifically a sheet that listed “five big picture goals” that the Ready by 21 coalition hopes to address. These goals are “learning: children and youth succeed in school; working: youth and young adults ready for work; thriving: children and youth make healthy choices; connecting: children and youth have positive relationships with peers, adults and the wider community; and leading: youth contribute to their community.”
The session started by discussing how to gather input from different age groups in the community. This would be done through a survey process. Each person in attendance came up with a question that they would ask a potential survey participant. Questions that were pitched included financial barriers, exploring options and paths for their future, setting goals, asking what they might be passionate about and cultural expectations.
Discussion also centered on how best to administer the survey. Members of the work group came to a consensus that face-to-face contact would be the best way of getting accurate and meaningful responses to the survey.
The meeting concluded with discussion of potential candidates for survey administrators and responders.
According to the Ready by 21 Facebook page, Ready by 21 is funded through a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. Healthy Peninsula hired Kim Hutchinson as the Ready by 21 Coordinator and to provide staff support for the Ready by 21 Community Leadership Team and Coalition.
For more information on Ready by 21 or to become involved in the next work group, contact Amy Vaughn at email@example.com or find the group on Facebook by searching for “Ready by 21.”