Fort Jackson teens talk back
Lauren Hearon, 18, standing, presents concerns from the Teen Focus Group discussion to Scott Nahrwold, deputy garrison commander, Aug. 5 at the Family Readiness Center.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -Adults are not the only ones making decisions on Fort Jackson. Teens discussed their concerns at the Community First/Active Family Action Plan teen focus group Aug. 5.

Dennis Ramirez, with Customer Management Services, encouraged the 11 group members to come together and talk about issues they may have in the community. The role of these delegates was to represent all of the teenagers who participate in the services on Fort Jackson.

Spokesperson Lauren Hearon, 18, was elected by the group to present three issues to Scott Nahrwold, deputy garrison commander.

"I learned that everybody has a voice, everybody has their own personal opinions and that if we put all of our opinions together, that's when we get a lot done," Hearon said.

The teens were each given a list of action words to make their statements more powerful. They learned how to verbalize their thoughts clearly and use facts to support their positions. The group then had all the tools the members needed to create a list of issues that had the greatest effect on teens' lives.

"When you have a problem, you are only part of the solution if you help with the solution," facilitator Peggy Cornwell said.

The focus group was facilitated in a way that encouraged the teens to discuss their personal ideas with confidence. The teens were also responsible for developing ideas on their own, without pressure - or interference - from any of the adult observers in the room.

According to the group, the 760-square foot teen room in the Youth Services Center has become too cramped for all of its members. Pashion Tyson, 15, said that people are so close that they sometimes get hit by pool cues. The group proposed that one of the five rooms reserved for younger children could be made into an additional teen room.

Another issue provided by Tyshon Coleman, 13, was the minimal shoe selection at the PX. The teens said they could no longer find their desired brand at the store, forcing them to take their business elsewhere.

The third issue, suggested by Antonio Lang-Green, 15, was that a music/dance facility be established on post so that everyone could have the opportunity to learn how to play various instruments and make their own music.

"The goal of the focus groups is for the garrison commander to hear the voice of the customer. All the people who live, work and train on Fort Jackson need to be heard," Ramirez said.

Ramirez is also in charge of other focus groups, such as one for wounded Soldiers, which will take place later this month.

"We are constantly seeking feedback to improve the things we do on Fort Jackson," Nahrwold said. "We expect you (the teens) to go out and be disciples for us."

As for the teens, it was clear that they enjoyed the session: when asked who would participate in another focus group, 11 teenage hands were raised into the air.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16