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Chester Youth Collaborative Hosts Older Youth Policy Forum

On October 6th, the Office of the Chester Mayor and the Chester Youth Collaborative (CYC) jointly conducted an Older Youth Policy Forum at Widener’s Lathem Hall.   

This full-day session brought together approximately 50 leaders in government, industry, and higher education to review the proposed CYC’s “Chester Older Youth Plan.”  This plan represents the culmination of over 18 months of planning that the CYC and its Advisory Council have been working on in the CYC’s capacity as the “official youth development resource” for the city of Chester.   

As a way of introduction, remarks were given by Mayor Wendell N. Butler, Jr.; Joan Richards, president and chief executive officer of Crozer Keystone Health System; and Kelly Woodland, program officer for the William Penn Foundation.  

Following the remarks, forum participants were asked to join one of four workgroups charged with creating year-long action plans across four different focus areas: workforce preparation; health and wellness; post-secondary options; and quality out-of-school time. Each group was facilitated by CYC Advisory Council chairpersons and contracted facilitators from Widener University, Community College of Philadelphia and a local youth-serving organization.  

Action plans were developed and once finalized will be presented at various community focus groups, allowing the larger Chester community an opportunity to lend their voice to this effort.  The final action plans will also serve as a “report card,” of sorts, allowing workgroup members the ability to regularly inform city government as well as the larger Chester community regarding progress. 

A key component of Chester Older Youth Plan is a set of recommendations for creating a citywide system that connects greater numbers of older Chester (ages 12-22) to quality opportunities in the non-school hours that build their workforce skills; increase their likelihood of pursuing a post-secondary educational opportunity; and connect them to critical health & wellness information that will empower them to make healthy lifestyle choices.   

In light of data that suggests that out-of-school time (hours between 3 and 6 p.m. and during the summer) is a time when many older youth are unsupervised and not engaged in structured opportunities, staff of the CYC believe that implementing a long term, comprehensive strategy such as the “Chester Older Youth Plan” is critical to building the skills that will help youth reach their full potential and successfully transition to adulthood.   

To learn more about the Chester Youth Collaborative, call (610) 497-7422.

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