Two Greeley Students Describe How the Coalition’s Interns Made an Impact
By Janice Seong and Violet Christensen
This summer, a group of Chappaqua teenagers log onto Zoom and discuss youth substance use, eager to make a difference in their community. Every year, New Castle United for Youth (NCUFY) provides an opportunity for local teenagers to work on projects surrounding youth substance use and healthy decision-making through a summer internship program.
Interns meet in two-week chunks with six total work days. The first week of the internship focuses on learning skills such as data visualization and the components of successful public health interventions. The second week of the session consists of more project-based work, where we break into groups to create final projects centered around youth substance use or promoting healthy lifestyle choices.
While working as interns, we share our perspectives as teenagers and work collaboratively with our peers. Intern Ian Freeman relates that the internship offers a unique way for “youth [to] help out other youth as opposed to adults because people are more likely to listen to others that they can relate to more.” Michael Huaca adds that he got to interact with students that were “freshmen, upperclassmen, or students below [his] grade.” The internship held by NCUFY allows us to interact with other youth that we otherwise would not share classes with at school.
Last year, one session focused on finding a way for families to spend more time together during quarantine. The project produced a family cookbook; the main inspiration behind it arose from an activity in which we each had to find and present an item that reminded us of a moment we had with our families. In making the cookbook, we picked various cuisines and included recipes that would be accessible to all age groups. Another project we made emphasizing familial connections was a family craft booklet that included tutorials on activities like making bead bracelets and creating a family tree. Due to the limited amount of activities that were available during quarantine, we wanted to share engaging activities families could participate in together.
Another summer session project was a survey on what a typical weekend looks like for Chappaqua teenagers; its main purpose was to show that a typical weekend does not involve risky activities and drinking–contrary to what many teenagers may believe. Because there was not enough time to fully develop this project in the summer, we began to have weekly meetings on Wednesdays. Throughout the past school year, we reviewed the work that the summer interns did and continued working on a survey for Chappaqua teenagers to complete. The results of the survey show that a majority of the teenagers (94%) do not use substances including marijuana or alcohol on a typical Saturday. We plan on using the results to develop an infographic to share with local youth.
Alex Mancini, a summer intern involved in creating the survey, finds the weekly meetings to be beneficial. He says, “The most rewarding part of participating in the meetings is completing projects that we have been working on and putting them into the real world. Also, the idea that what we are doing could be helping someone in our community is very reassuring to think about.”
As the school year starts, students interested in NCUFY can get involved by joining the weekly Coalition Youth Leadership Council meetings held throughout the school year. An easy way to join is by emailing the Coalition Coordinator, at email@example.com. For more info, visit newcastleunitedforyouth.org. Moreover, students can join Greeley’s SADD club, led by NCUFY member and Greeley Student Assistance Counselor Carolyn D’Agostino who works closely with the Coalition to inspire smart choices in and outside a school environment.
It’s greatly satisfying to have a meaningful impact on your community. NCUFY gives Greeley students the perfect opportunity to put our heads together and reach rewarding outcomes
Janice Seong is a rising senior at Horace Greeley High School and one of the Editors-in-Chief of the Greeley Tribune. A part of New Castle United for Youth for three years as the Youth Sector Representative, she enjoys giving back to her community and working with her peers to make a lasting impact.
Violet Christensen is a rising sophomore at Greeley and has been working with the NCUFY coalition for two years. She is also a member of Greeley’s SADD club and enjoys contributing to the well-being of the community. In her free time, Violet can be seen playing softball, volleyball, and video games.
New Castle United for Youth, a coalition funded through the federal Drug Free Communities grant program, aims to create a supportive and interconnected community for New Castle youth and their families. Each summer, NCUFY hosts an internship program for local teens to hear their perspectives and to empower them to support each other.