Positive Choices Coalition hosted its first annual Taste of Independence at the Chautauqua Children's Safety Education Village on Aug. 29. The event was open to young people ages 14-18, and provided the opportunity to experience a day in the life of an adult. Participants visited a series of "stations" representing institutions adults interact with on a daily basis such as: banks, stores, employment, and health centers. Each young person navigated the adult system to find work, housing, transportation, balance budgets, write checks and cope with day to day problems. The event was sponsored by the Positive Choices Coalition, CVS Pharmacy, Dipson Theatres, Burger King and Wendy's.
The event's purpose was to promote a greater understanding of the education and skills needed to become successful independent adults. The day started by having the participants complete an employment application and then participating in a mock job interview. Once offered a position the participants reported to their job supervisor where they completed a variety of real tasks to serve as their work day. From there they received their pay check and completed their other tasks as mentioned above. At the end of the day, participants were allowed to have a "night out" if they had enough money in their budgets. This allowed the participants the opportunity to play games and socialize. The day wrapped up with a lesson about what the participants learned, what the actual costs are to raise a child, and how preparing for ones future is important to becoming a successful adult. One of the participants expressed the following about the day: "I learned that it takes a lot to pay bills and go to work. It got me thinking about what I want to do when I get older."
The Positive Choices Coalition's mission is "Supporting Teens' Healthy Habits" and is focused on reducing risky behaviors in Chautauqua County youth while providing positive opportunities to both youth and adults through various annual events. Many community organizations make up the membership, which include: Chautauqua County Department of Social Services Independent Living Program, Chautauqua County Health Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Chautauqua Tapestry, E2CCB/Project KNOW, SUNY Fredonia Migrant Education Outreach Program, TEAM Program, YWCA Jamestown, and YWCA of Westfield as well as a community representative. The coalition meets on a monthly basis to plan for events throughout the year and to promote its mission. Anyone interested in getting involved with the coalition, can contact 484-4487 for more information.
Children ages 14-18 recently attended the first annual Taste of Independence at the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village. Pictured below shows those attending participating in mock interviews.