Teens tackle problems; brainstorm potential solutions during Teen AFAP Conference
July 8, 2011
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- Teens threw out a lot of good ideas not punches during the 2011 Teen Army Family Action Plan Conference held June 30 at the post Family Outreach Center. While some area high schools are struggling with low student achievement, high absenteeism, and teen violence a group of volunteer teen delegates worked together to solve problems they were encountering on post.
Volunteer adult facilitators, recorders, and issue support people spent the day with teen delegates to teach them life skills to deal effectively with issues that affect them.
“Before I attended this conference I never had a voice on what happened at any post our Family was stationed at,” said teen delegate Rachael Johnson.
Victoria Donahue, a second year teen delegate, agreed. “I like the fact teenagers are able to make a difference in their community,” said Donahue. “The best part of the whole process was brainstorming for ideas.”
Facilitator for the Blue Team, Gail Fitzpatrick, pointed out to the teens at the start of the conference that problems and solutions developed out of previous Teen AFAP Conferences were met with resolution. “The Post Exchange now carries equipment to repair musical instruments,” said Fitzpatrick. “This was one of the concerns addressed by teens at last year’s Teen AFAP Conference.”
The third annual Fort Gordon Army Community Service Teen AFAP Conference brought out twice the number of teens to this year’s conference, said Teri Ryan, the post’s program manager. The 23 teens were formed up into teams " a red team and a blue team which included a facilitator and recorder.
The day-long conference consisted of delegate training, work group sessions, scheduled breaks, and lunch. Each team came up with three issues or problems effecting teens on post. The teens developed the scope for each problem which clearly, but precisely addressed what the problem was, who and how it affected them and why it was a problem. The teen delegates then worked to come up with some valid solutions.
The two teams formulated their recommendations for each problem. Every suggestion focused on a measurable end product.
The six ideas developed by the teams were posted on a wall in the Family Outreach Building by Samhari Stanley, a teen volunteer, for the delegates to vote on later.
Early in the conference the teens chose two primary and two alternate teen delegates to represent them at the upcoming Army Family Action Conference to be held on post Oct. 24-26. Teens Victoria Donahue and Michaella “Mickey” Fitzpatrick are the primary representatives and Joshua Julien and Rachael Johnson are alternates.
Both the primary and alternate representatives briefed Col. Glenn Kennedy, the garrison commander, on each workgroups’ top three issues. Then during a break the teens voted on the final top three issues.
This year’s top three issues that are going forward to the installation Army Family Action Plan Conference on post include the development of a teen facility on post, a dance club for military teens and unsafe travelling conditions for teens on post.
Kennedy congratulated each of the teens for all their hard work at the conference before presenting each of them a certificate. Each of the adult volunteers received one as well. Among the adult volunteers receiving recognition were Gail Fitzpatrick, blue team facilitator; Alyssa Cogswell, blue team recorder; Cathy Ruder, red team facilitator; Joanie Bryant, red team recorder; Nancy Moore and Suzie Waldman, members of the registration and hospitality team, and Jennifer Pospisil, an issue support person. Samhari Stanley, a teen volunteer who worked behind the scenes during the conference, also received a certificate at the conclusion of the conference.
“Ideas, problems and issues that affect the post can be submitted year round,” said Ryan. For more information about the upcoming 2011 AFAP Conference or to submit an issue for consideration, call 791-2829.