Youths, from across the Installation Management Command, gathered at Camp Bob Cooper in Summerton, South Carolina for the 2016 Army Youth Leadership Forum.The 13- to 17-year olds were there to discuss issues affecting teenagers in the Army and provided some recommendations to leadership.Jason Marton, with IMCOM Southeast, said the forum is part of the teen chain of communication -- a Child, Youth Services and Schools empowerment program for teens.At the forum, youths learned team building, had fitness activities every morning, and learned resiliency from behavioral health specialists."They do leadership projects; they do service projects, but they also gather issues locally," Marton said. "They will survey their community and hold a local youth leadership forum kind of like you
see here. But it could be only a couple of hours or overnight."They gather all their issues and come to a consensus of three issues," he added.From that they elevate their issues up to their region panel. Getting the teens together was very
important in solving issues said Christina Kruger, a program leader for the library. It allowed the children to build friendships while teaming up to find answers to problems students face."We have a culture where we are isolated to begin with, and to come together here and say, 'Oh, we are having the exact same problems we have interest to solve them together or this is how we did it,'" Kruger said.Those issues are then conveyed to the Army teen panel. Every region would then come together to discuss the issues and forward them to the Army for staffing.The top three issues for the Atlantic and Southern Regions were Wi-Fi and upgrading technologies, the nutritional program and work force preparation.The teens at the leadership forum are some of the best around, Marton said."You will see they come in already very talented, but working with a corps of young leaders like this they are able to take it to the next level," he said. The forum allowed the youths the opportunity to
reach out to their leaders and share various ideas.Youths who attend the forum are selected in a "competitive process," Marton said. The teens are chosen to attend and while sometimes there may be "eight garrison representatives who are qualified to attend," not all will.Kruger from IMCOM Headquarters in San Antonio, said "The kids all came together to talk about their issues." The program leaders helped the youths to understand how the issues can be helped."We don't work in the youth centers but the issues aren't brought to our attention necessarily,"
she said, "but we can say, 'oh, we can fix some of the problems, but not all of the problems.' As a
program leader I can tell the kids, 'Hey, we have this one resource, for instance we have databases on help-free transitions that can help you write resumes, set up job interview questions.'"Employment was a big issue, one of the top three they brought up," she added. "Now I know
when I speak with the kids that is something I need to point out -- how the libraries can help you be
successful."Both teens and staff learned a lot at the event said Jeremy Crisp, a behavioral health trainer, who
taught resiliency at the forum.The staff "did a great job programming, the kids learned a lot of advocacy skills and got to practice
a lot of advocacy skills," he said."Bringing these children together like this as young leaders and allow them a platform to be
able to advocate for themselves -- these are skills that will really shape the kind of adult they want
to be and kind of career they want to have.""They are learning and having fun at the same time," Kruger added.Michelle Sterkowitz, from USAG Vincenza, Italy, who taught youths at the forum how to
use art to become more resilient said, youths were able to express themselves through art, while also learning its calming influences."It provides an opportunity for people to accept themselves," she said. "It allows them to express
themselves in ways they typically can't. As a teen sometimes it's hard to talk about what's going on,
so it's nice to be able to have an outlet. This and the destressors art provides -- it's naturally therapeutic and relaxing."As the closest IMCOM installation to the event, Fort Jackson was integral in ensuring the forum
took place by providing transportation, security support, and general support.We couldn't have had the event without them, Marton said.