A new publication focuses on positive youth development and recognizes the value of community in helping young people thrive.

The Livingston Council for Youth grew out of a grassroots effort and now represents various community groups that offer services for youth including schools, the faith-based community, non-profit governmental entities and the Livingston County United Way. It works collaboratively to develop community-level strategies that promote positive change and empower kids to thrive.

The Council earlier administered a survey to all 7th, 9th and 11th grade students in all five public schools districts in Livingston County to gather baseline data to analyze. Council Co-Chair Sam Larioza says they’re essentially taking what’s already happening that’s great for youth in Livingston County, helping coordinate it and give it some data based focus. He says the Council has been working the last four years, which culminated in the magazine, and the bulk is topics for parenting and helping parents raise great kids. He says the goal is also to expand on current topics and use articles and issues that are really current to parents today, such as doing better in school, vaping, or technology.

Larioza says it’s not that there is any crisis or a need to fix local youth but rather a desire to celebrate and acknowledge kids. He says things are good but there is still room to improve and do better because kids are the future of the county. Larioza says reviews and feedback have been beyond expectation for the magazine but it’s really just the first step. He says they must now follow through and really reach out to all parents, organizations and everyone in the community - not just adults with children. Larioza says they wanted to make sure circulation goes well beyond parents and students in the local public schools and want to be fully inclusive no matter where a student goes to school or how parents raise their children. He says they’re working to access home school and private schools parents but also providing copies at local doctor and dentist offices.

The inaugural electronic edition of the Youth Connections Magazine is available through the link provided. Pictured are Youth Council Co-Chairs Scott VanEpps and Sam Larioza with YC Magazine. (JM)