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RCA Youth Projects

RCA Youth Projects

From rural communities to the State Capitol

In March 2017, around 50 youth network members representing 9 different school districts gathered at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock for “RCA Youth Day at the Capitol” to connect with other students from rural communities in Arkansas. Students experienced firsthand how the legislative process works at the state level by attending various committee meetings, and watching legislators in action on the floor of the House and Senate. For many, it was their first time to tour the State Capitol and be introduced to youth from other rural communities. They left with a better understand of civic engagement and how their state government operates.

Each May, The Department of Arkansas Heritage celebrates Arkansas Heritage Month. This time is dedicated to recognizing and appreciating Arkansas’s cultural and natural heritage. The theme for 2015 was “From the Delta to the Hills”. This provided a perfect opportunity for RCA chapters to collaborate. Sharon Pierce and the Mt. Judea Area Alliance (MJAA) were awarded a grant to initiate a project with a town in the Delta. Marvell-Elaine was chosen as the partner.

Students of the Deer-Mt. Judea and Marvell-Elaine School Districts were asked to write short stories about their heritage and some of the students took pictures of the landscape as did some of the faculty. The MJAA edited the stories but didn’t fact check, or change the writing. The stories are as they were given, with only the spelling and/or typing errors being corrected. The 71 page compilation has been well received. especially by people who were originally from the Delta but now live in the hills and vice versa. The students were very happy to see their work in print.

Saline County-Paron Teen Leaders making a difference

Paron 4-H Teen Leaders are making a difference in Saline County. The youth members in the community are reaching out to less fortunate kids in central Arkansas. Paron 4-H members will be volunteering their time as ambassadors at the Saline County Fair this year. Saline County 4-H group is working to make a difference in rural areas in Perry County, Saline County and Hot Spring County. Youth members are working to gather personal hygiene items for pre-teens and young adults who are removed from their homes for reasons beyond their control. They are also working to gather coats for a coat drive and books for a book exchange program. They are working on these programs to highlight the need in their community and bring attention to the positive impacts teens can have on their community.

Youth members are now attending Quorum Court sessions and Financial Planning committee meetings in an effort to understand how local government works, shadowing the county judge and his staff during school breaks, and visiting the State Capitol to meet legislators. The teens are hoping that the connections being made now encourages better governance and advocacy for rural communities in the future.

Candy Webb, a 4-H group leader for the youth stated, “With the closing of our school it is even more important than before to keep the kids in our community busy and engaged with not only our local needs but also those in our surrounding areas. We will continue to grow partnerships with surrounding areas and organizations in an effort to bring awareness to the needs of rural students and highlight the positive changes our kids are making.”

FishHook Theatre: Bridging the gap

Elaine Community Opportunity Seekers began venturing into community theatre in 2013. Elaine’s youth played an integral part in each production of FishHook Theatre. Youth were responsible for gathering stories from elder members of the community. A playwright then composed a production from those real life events. The youth assisted with set design and traveled with FishHook Theatre to perform in Little Rock, Brinkley, and Leslie, Arkansas.

Lil FishHook Theatre will premiere Fall 2015. This production will be exclusive to children between the ages of 3-12.